The Decemberists was already headed down the misty and wooden prog-folk path in March 2007 when it last visited the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts. “The Crane Wife” had just come out and was being lauded for mixing sea shanties with simple folk melodies to rock numbers with obscure historical references plucked straight from the encyclopedia.
Fast forward more than two years and the band is now fully lost in the forest. Thursday night at the same venue, the band played its March release, “The Hazards of Love,” in its entirety. This is an epic concept album full of bombast and intrigue— a rock opera about two star-crossed lovers named William and Margaret. Listen to Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” for a fair example of its progenitor.
This was the first set, but the night was not over. The second set began with “The Sporting Life” from 2005’s “Picaresque,” which still stands as the band’s most complete effort. That song (and album) may stand as America’s answer to Scottish in-die darlings Belle & Sebastian. “Billy Liar” had a Byrds-esque 12-string jangle and the new song “Down By the Water” had a down-home country twang.