Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Concert Review: Andrew Bird - 2/3/09 at the 9:30 Club

The slacker blogger is back with another concert review. If not for my unsustainable addiction to concerts, this blog might have died long ago.

Last night, Andrew Bird brought his enormous bag of tricks to the 930 Club and wowed a full house for about an hour. It is truly unfair how much talent this man has. Don't hog it all! This guy is probably the best violinist in rock music (by a large margin). He might be the best whistler in the universe. He's got a silky tenor voice that hits some tough notes with grace and ease. He writes probably the most intelligent music out there (you'll need a dictionary to understand what the songs are about). And he's a passable, if not amazing, guitar player. One of his skills that I didn't know about before the show was his live looping prowess. I'd read somewhere that his shows included a lot of looping, which made sense, considering there are often a lot of violin parts layered over each other. But he pulls this effect off live with the same ease with which he shows off all of his other amazing skills. He'd play a few notes on his fiddle, then some harmonies, and pretty quickly, there's the dense, rich sound of a chamber string group.

Now, here's the problem: For all his talents, I think Bird should be better than he is. I think he's coasting. By almost any other musician's standards, his latest two albums would've been triumphant, career-making stuff. But I'm not buying it for him. His songs border on becoming boring, which is shocking given his many talents. He's not a bad songwriter. He's just not as ambitious as I would like. He should be pushing the envelope with crazy stuff on a regular basis, but he only does on a semi-regular basis.

A lot of the show blended together for me, as I'm not as familiar with the individual songs on the last two albums as I am with those on Mysterious Production of Eggs. He only played one song from that, my favorite of his albums, "Fake Palindromes," and I wish he'd just not bothered, because his rendition last night was annoying. He pulled the "I'm-gonna-change-every-single-note-of-this-song" trick, making it impossible to even recognize except for the sweeping violin riff. My favorite song he played was the first encore, one that I think is not on any of his albums (called "Why? / Somedays" on the setlist), but I'm not sure. He went super-bluesy with it, and it worked well. I think he was trying to act like a drunk. He should do that more.

So, perhaps I'm being unfair by criticizing Bird for not being as amazing as I think he can be. It was really worth it just to see his mad skillz at all things musical. But I still hold out hope that, one of these days, he's gonna come out with something that's equal to his limitless talents. I can't wait.

Setlist (according to NPR anyway, though I know it's missing at least "Fake Palindromes"):
Instrumental from Soldier On EP
Water Jet Cliche
Oh No
Natural Disaster
Not A Robot, But A Ghost
Privateers (formerly The Confession)
Fitz and the Dizzyspells
Why? [Encore]
Tables and Chairs [Encore]

For some pictures that don't suck and the concert recorded in full, visit NPR's page for last night's show.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Imitosis was the second encore! Do you know the name of the second encore? I've been trying to figure it out.