andrew bird : the orpheum theatre, december 7, 2007
it must be said again: andrew bird is ridiculously talented. this being the second time i've seen him live, andrew bird's use of loop pedals to create layers upon layers of sound was no surprise to me. and yet, the lack of novelty did nothing to make his performance any less astounding. he begins by playing his violin in pizzicato, lightly plucking and picking the strings. looping that, he then picks up his bow and plays his violin in arco, creating a second and a third layer of sound. quickly setting his violin aside, he swings around the guitar he's had slung across his back and now there is a fourth layer. add in some whistling and a voice that i don't think gets enough credit and you have an indelible performance by andrew bird.
what is really interesting about seeing him perform live, though, is his energy and presence on stage--he's constantly in motion, fidgeting and nervous tic motioning his head to the left in a way that you might mistake for anxiety or adhd. but the impression i get is that this man has so music streaming out of his hands and his feet and his arms and his legs that it's all he can do to keep from bursting into a mishmash of sonic disarray. he contains it well, switching so quickly from instrument to instrument, with so little time to spare, that you just can't help but be mystified.
the highlight of the night for me was bird's rendition of "the giant of illinois" by the handsome family (who opened the show). at the conclusion of the song, he pointed out how much he loved the song and the pure beauty of these lyrics, which i completely agree with:
delirious with painandrew bird : "the giant of illinois"
his bedroom walls began to glow
and he felt himself soaring up through falling snow
and the sky was a woman's arms
from the daytrotter session (2007)
it's simply a masterful song. just listen to the layers he creates one by one, from pizzicato violin to guitar to his voice. see the rest of the daytrotter session here. i'll have more from andrew bird in the coming weeks...