There are moments in life that, if they had been scripted by a Hollywood screenwriter, audiences would mock for being too absurdly implausible. Strange coincidences that no one would ever believe . . . and yet they really happen. Perhaps that's part of what makes life so magical.
Cara and I went to the Nautica Pavilion in Cleveland's Flats last night to see the Decemberists play a concert. It turned out to be an experience we'll undoubtedly treasure for the rest of our lives. It was our first time to the venue, an outdoor, roofed amphitheatre on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River. The place is more corporate than what I typically prefer for a concert, but I'll readily admit that, when the weather is good, it's a nice place to see a concert. The weather last night was perfect.
The Decemberists' set was great from the start (fan favorite "July, July"). Other highlights included "Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect," the whole "Crane Wife" trilogy, and a very rocking rendition of "Won't Want For Love." They closed the main set with "This Is Why We Fight," and I was very pleased with the setlist and performance to that point.
During the first encore break, a surprisingly large number of people filed out of the venue, hoping to beat traffic, no doubt. It didn't make sense to me at the time, but after what happened next, I'm sure that any of those folks who left and then read reports about the concert later are kicking themselves big time.
The encore started with "Raincoat Song." Next up came a song that I'd consider the highlight of any Decemberists concert it's performed at - "The Mariner's Revenge Song." I smiled as I listened to Colin Meloy's familiar introduction, telling the audience to scream at the appropriate time as if we were being swallowed by a giant whale. It's probably the best crowd participation moment I've experienced at concerts, and I doubt it will get old no matter how many times I get to join in (this was the third).
Then they began playing the song.
And then Cara got my attention and pointed off to the right of the stage.
There, just beginning to come into view, was a giant cargo ship making its way down the river.
Let's stop right there to consider things. How cool would it be to see a giant ship float by, right behind the stage, during a riverside concert? Very cool. How about if it was during a concert by the Decemberists, a band with a lot of nautically themed music? Even cooler. Now what about if the ship came into view in perfect timing with the beginning of an epic nine minute song about a boy joining up with a ship's crew and sailing out to sea in a quest for revenge, continued to float by until by the middle of the song the ship basically engulfed the stage in front of it, began to disappear from view at just about the time when the whole several-thousand person audience was screaming in unison for the aforementioned swallowing by a whale, and was finally gone in time for the song's jaunty conclusion?
Well, that would be just about the coolest thing ever, I'd say.
And that's what happened last night.
I truly consider everyone who was there very lucky to have witnessed it. Colin said (clearly joking) before playing closer "June Hymn" that they had hired the ship's captain, and it was very expensive. In my mind, I found myself thinking, "Maybe someone on the ship is a Decemberists fan, and planned it" - a fairly ridiculous notion, I'm sure. But could that really have happened by random chance?
I guess that's what makes real life so magical.
It was a wonderful evening, and I'll also mention that folk band The Head and the Heart were great openers. After their set, Cara and I wandered down to the merch stand, where we saw the really cool custom made poster for the night's show, featuring a stylized picture of the riverside venue. We considered getting one, but I thought it was a little pricey. After the show, I decided that we needed that poster, and we bought one. Years from now, when we look at it, we'll undoubtedly think about the time a giant ship passed behind the stage during "The Mariner's Revenge Song," and marvel at the memory.