This worked well for the impressively large audience that gathered to watch the Portland, Oregon group's debut performance in Ottawa, as their 75-minute co-headlining slot featured a good cross-section of material from the past decade. Walking onto the festival's second largest stage, the Decemberists were joined by background vocalists Kelly Hogan and Nora O'Connor, who helped them launch into an epic suite of songs from 2009's rock opera The Hazards of Love that included "Prelude," "The Hazards of Love 1," "A Bowery Scene" and "Won't Want for Love," with the latter featuring earth shattering co-lead vocals from Hogan.
Greeting the crowd 20 minutes into their set, vocalist and guitarist Colin Meloy led his band into "The Wrong Year," one of only two songs (along with "Make You Better") they would perform from their latest release, before giving the crowd a taste of two brand new tracks. After returning to some of their classic material, including "Down by the Water" and "O Valencia!," the Decemberists closed the set with a raucous rendition of Picaresque's "The Mariner's Revenge Song," which found all five members moving to the front of the stage to perform while culminating with Hogan and O'Connor bringing out a giant nylon blue whale to gobble everyone up.
Wishing the large and appreciative audience a good night, Meloy quipped, "We'll now hand you over to Brad Paisley-land," a sentiment that was followed by playful throngs of boos, showing just how many spectators showed up Wednesday night (July 13) to see these indie rock vets deliver their strong, crowd-pleasing set.