Saturday, January 31, 2009

Andrew Bird @ Orpheum Theater

I've been a fan of Andrew Bird since 2005's The Mysterious Production of Eggs. Both that album and its 2007 follow up, Armchair Apocrypha, have made my top ten albums in their respective years. Last night was the second time I've seen Bird in concert, but the first time I realized how much more special he is live than on record.

From his skill for multi-tasking by alternating between violin, guitar and xylophone--often times on the same song--all the while maintaining his primary role as frontman and lead singer; to his stage presence and subtle charm at conversing with his audience, Bird is an amazing performer. His act truly has to be seen in order to believe that his talents go well beyond his ability to craft and arrange fine pop songs.

Bird's trademark instrument is the violin, but his most interesting talent may very well be his whistling, probably the musical element that makes his sound most unique. Adding to his uniqueness were the hot pink socks that came on display when he removed his shoes while the music played in extended loop during the show's opening song. My curiosity was further aroused as I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how he manages to hold the violin's bow in the same hand that he uses to finger-pick it with, so that he can move back and forth effortlessly between playing it conventionally and unconventionally.

Last night's show was just the second on his recent tour to support his new album, Noble Beast. As a result, there were plenty of artist-acknowledged mistakes that resulted in double and triple-takes to the openings of songs, but all were handled with Bird's charming sense of humor and didn't detract from the incredible performance in the slightest. Judging by the crowd response, the majority in attendance last night were in absolute agreement with me.

We missed part of the opening act, the Swedish popsters Loney, Dear. But, the portion of their set we witnessed made me re-think my own idea that I probably wouldn't like them as much as I did a couple of years ago, and realize that spending a little time with their recently released album will be well worth the effort.

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