December 9, 2010
Andrew Bird, that wordy whistler, performed the first of three nights at historic Sixth and I Synagogue under his Gezelligheid series on Monday. I expected violin runs, I expected perfectly-pitched whistling, and even expected the bizarre opener. But what I didn't expect was the army of loopers and pedals employed to create the illusion of a real-live band. Oy vey.
The opener, Julianna Barwick... well I'm going to do a compliment sandwich. Her voice is pretty spectacular - she's got a great range with a smooth tone. But the new age chanting via loop pedals is a little hackneyed. I mean she was all up Enya. It was a bit like listening to a chorus - where each member enters in order - and sings the exact same 4 notes - for 8 minutes. Now another compliment: what great arrangments she is capable of hearing. Seems to me she would be better as a writer/arranger/singer than a "band".
Ultimately, it was not a casual fans' show. Bird played little that was recognizable from his recent albums, relying on new, obscure and non-album tracks to build the setlist. He admitted very early on that this series was more of a palette on which he could do more instrumentation and experimentation than his popular tunes allowed in-concert. This was both a thrill and a letdown. To see such a unique musical performance was exciting. To not hear some of his more potable works in such an intimate setting was disappointing. You can see the score card for more insight--pics to follow shortly. In this writers HO, the show was incredibly self-indulgent but not altogether unenjoyable.
You Woke Me Up
Hole in the Ocean Floor
Crown Salesman (Jeremy Ylvisaker)
The Giant of Illinois
Section 8 City
Song in 13
The Fatal Shore/Goin’ Home (Charley Patton)
Setlist from howsmyliving.com. Thanks guys!