John Darnielle is, inarguably, one of the most revered and prolific storytellers in indie rock. Playing to a packed crowd, the Mountain Goats brought to life a medley of ditties that span an almost twenty-year career (with a back catalog so overflowing it would take paragraphs to gloat about). Until recently the Goats have been considered to be Darnielle plus bassist Peter Hughes who record and perform as Mountain Goats, despite Darnielle often playing much of his work solo.

Darnielle’s rabid fanbase was out in full force on Tuesday night at Webster Hall, hooting and hollering to both old and new songs, including a sizeable portion of tracks from October’s The Life of the World To Come. “Psalms 40:2,” “Romans 10:9″ and “Hebrews 11:14″ (with Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy on violin) were ready-made classics.

Tales of kids sniffing glue in a Precious Moments chapel (“Going to Port Washington”) accompanied by “heavier” themes of lost icons (“Song for Dennis Brown”) dressed the night. Nothing from February 2008′s Heretic Pride was played, although most of the 4AD albums were covered as were a number of his ’90s releases. The biggest crowd letdown was hearing nothing from 2001′s fan favorite, All Hail West Texas, (Darnielle’s last album from the small indie label where he made his name). As always, all oldies were well-received, especially “Against Pollution,” from 2004′s We Shall All Be Healed. More old gems were sourced from Ghana and Bitter Melon Farm compilations, as the Goats delighted with a vast skim of their background, not skimping on tales and crowd banter during breaks. The encore provided an exciting chance to hear “No Children” off of 2002′s Tallahassee, the band’s first release on the UK’s 4AD label. At the end of a long and winding tour, the Goats managed to play a tight set and seemed to enjoy each other’s company, particularly on the more upbeat cuts. At times it felt like the soulless Webster Hall was turned into a quasi-church, as Darnielle was the preacher to the faithful. –Andrea D’Alessandro