Colin Meloy, frontman for the Decemberists, kicked off the west coast leg of his solo tour with a show at Hollywood’s historic Fonda Theatre (formerly the Music Box). Meloy started his set off with the Decemberists song Oceanside, declaring it appropriate due to the proximity of the ocean.
The whole show was as full of tongue-in-cheek puns and imaginative image placements as Meloy’s lyrics. After a series of confessions that he would probably forget lyrics due to his not having been on stage for a while, Meloy played Apology Song. He also found ways to ingratiate himself to the audience despite constantly bringing up how he tried to “kill” and “disparage” them in the lyrics of Calamity Song, in which “California succumbed to the fault line.”
Although a majority of the songs were from the Decemberists’ canon, Meloy found time to play Do You Remember Walter? off his recent album of Kinks covers, and finished his set with Morissey’s Every Day Is Like Sunday. He also played Keeping Me Awake a song from Tarkio, Meloy’s band prior to the Decemberists, as well as his solo track, Hank, Eat Your Oatmeal. And he debuted three new songs, including one titled Philomena about seducing and going down on a woman of the same name. Throughout the song, he kept insisting that he wrote it before the Steve Coogan film came out, and that no one should be picturing Dame Judy Dench as he sang the lyircs. But the more he insisted, the more everyone laughed at the image of Dench naked in Meloy’s bedroom.
Occasionally sipping wine in his button-up and jeans, Meloy appeared very relaxed on stage. In fact, the whole set was very chill and low-key in comparison to the high energy intensity of a more elaborate Decembrists show. In that setting, Meloy can usuaully be found in a well-tailored suit, often jumping around on stage, and during the band’s 2004-05 tour dates, the encore often featured a giant paper whale that attacked the audience. The calm, laid-back vibe on this night was highlighted by a moment mid-set when a single piece of confetti, obviously left in the rafters from a show earlier in the week, fell slowly down in front of Meloy as he stood there earnestly strumming at his guitar. It felt like a night in, drinking hot cocoa and watching old movies, which can sometimes be just as fulfilling as going out.
Photos by Annie Lesser.