Monday, April 9
Though Andrew Bird has played with a backing band for several years now, he took to>"/>
Andrew Bird Paramount Theatre Monday, April 9
Monday, April 9
Though Andrew Bird has played with a backing band for several years now, he took to the stage alone to begin his show last night at the Paramount. This isn't a particularly uncommon show-opening move (and, after all, it's his name on the marquee) but for Bird, it's an especially appropriate one--he's the type of performer who, on musicianship alone, could carry a show at a venue like the Paramount all by himself.
However, for all his technical ability, Bird's performance resembled his restrained new album Break It Yourself, an intricately composed record that contains only one track that could be construed as a rock song (single "Eyeoneye"). Last night, Bird himself seemed subdued, but the show as a whole was well-balanced, and all the while, his mastery of the violin--not to mention his uncanny whistling abilities--was on full display.
Bird's opening pair of songs nicely demonstrated what makes him a unique performer. Through looping pedals, he built up layers of violin--alternately strummed, bowed, or plucked pizzicato style--removing and adding parts at will as he sang. Such looping wizardry is the main component of Bird's live show, and it remained that way when the other three band members came onstage.
Despite the orchestral nature of Bird's music, rarely did he allow his songs to build up to climax. Instead, he augmented many of them with instrumental sections, building his loops and playing off his band. Break It Yourself cuts like "Danse Caribe" and "Orpheo Looks Back" stuck to this formula, and the latter was lent additional texture by looping the drums, giving it an especially layered feel.
The best songs, with the exception of the sparse "Fatal Shore" from the new album, came from Bird's back catalogue. A rousing version of Armchair Apocrypha's "Plasticities" was a highlight, as was "Tables and Chairs," whose dramatic coda he drew out for maximum dramatic effect. Bird isn't afraid to restructure his older songs, adding lengthy instrumental bits, bringing down the volume at unexpected times, or toying with the vocal melodies. While these changes were unexpected, they make sense; with how skilled Bird is at what he does, he has to find ways to keep things interesting.
Hole in the Ocean Floor
It's Not Easy Being Green (Kermit the Frog cover)
Give It Away
Orpheo Looks Back
Tables and Chairs
If I Needed You (Townes Van Zandt cover)