April 14, 2007

Live Review: Andrew Bird

I've seen quite a few very talented musicians live, but I don't think any of them exude with said talent as much as the amiable Mr. Bird. Joined on-stage by drummer/keyboardist Martin Dosh and bassist Jeremy Ylvisake, this small group of performers created music with a lushness that defied their numbers. Assisted by a sampling pedal and an array of effects, including a rotating horn speaker, Bird paced the stage like a mad conductor, fiercely urging his orchestra on to sweeping crescendos. The set was mainly a showcase of his newest release Armchair Apocrypha, but Bird has a reputation for live interpretations that significantly deviate from their studio counterparts. Perhaps the most striking example of this was "Heretics", a song in which the string arrangements present on the record were conspicuously absent in the live setting, turning the tune into what could almost be described as the 'rocker' of Bird's set. The unique looping and rhodes skills of Dosh (I've been listening to his album Lost Take all week, amazing stuff) were showcased on "Simple X", the intro of which was an exercise in sampling, in order to provide the backing tracks for the rest of the song. The night was not was not strictly a one-album affair however, seeing Bird reach into his recent back catalog with live renditions of The Mysterious Production of Eggs' "The Naming of Things" and "Tables and Chairs". The main set ended with "Scythian Empires", just one of the more 'dreamy' songs played that Bird said he felt were appropriate for a venue as beautiful as the Southern Theater. A one song encore of "Weather Systems", played solo, capped off the evening with a veritable showcase of violin mastery (or something close to it). It's hard to pin Andrew Bird within a genre, he's almost in a class by himself, with a similarly undefinable live show that's a spectacle worth witnessing.

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