Britt Festivals

Andrew Bird Concert Review

Posted Jun 23, 2009 at 09:20 PM in General, Band Information

Instant review: Andrew Bird @ the Fillmore 2/19/09

The sold-out crowd Thursday at the Fillmore didn’t come to schmooze, dance or drink — the latter to the chagrin of the bored waitresses walking through the crowd with empty trays, who probably wish the headlining entertainer weren’t coming back for a second night. The remarkably well-behaved ticketholders came to listen to music, and that’s what they got.

The object of the rapt attention was Chicago’s Andrew Bird, the virtuoso violinist, guitarist, whistler, singer and occasional glockenspieler who, with the help of a few pedals to capture samples, can easily exist as a one-man band, though on this night he had the help of three backing musicians who rarely did anything to attract attention.

With the look and demeanor of a sincere grad student, Bird spun out beautiful melodies peppered with four-syllable words that flow trippingly off the tongue. Often he’d sketch out the song by laying down a phrase or two of pizzicato violin and looping them. Then he and the rest of the band would color in the rest of the song with bowed violin, guitar, bass and drums (and the occasional woodwind), with Bird’s whistling and vocals added on top.

The repertoire spanned all of his albums and even reached back to his old band, Bowl of Fire, for the encore, a stunning solo take on “Why,” which has become a signature piece. The older stuff was greeted with rapturous applause, but nearly half of the show came from the fine new “Noble Beast,” Bird’s most commercially successful album to date. Especially good was “Effigy,” which Bird described as being about “the guy that sits at the end of the bar and makes unsolicited comments.”

Although there was virtuosity aplenty — the rich vibrato of Bird’s whistling alone is worth the price of admission — the off-the-cuff loops gave everything a rough, homespun quality. Occasionally the layers upon layers got a little thick and messy, but more often the effect was mesmerizing. The records are great, but watching him do it live is something every music fan ought to check out. 

 

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