Andrew Bird is not much of a man for words, which might surprise you if you’re a fan of his expressive songwriting. The empty stage bravado that marks the shows of his fellow artists is noticeably missing from his live performance. Instead, he appears on stage looking like a rather rumpled troubadour in a wrinkled suit. He picks up a fiddle and begins picking instantaneously, no words spoken. The crowd roars.
His strong, clear vocals pierce the hot, hazy theater. He is never off-key or wavering, yet his voice has a very folksy quality as he bellows out Old World-tinged melodies. While the impressive stage lights and his intense physical energy give the show an air of theatricality, Bird’s singing style is intimate and easy. You get the feeling that he would be just as comfortable crooning away in his kitchen as he is on a stage in front of hundreds of audience members. Out of the many artists I that I have seen perform live, Andrew Bird stands out in my mind for his comfort on stage and apparent mastery of his craft.
Bird and his band make their way through many of his more popular works while the crowd gains energy. He picks out a few notes of “Tenuousness”:
Tenuous at best was all he had to say/When pressed about the rest of it, the world that is/ From proto-Sanskrit Minoans to Porto-centric Lisboans.
Everyone around me is entranced, unable to look away from the stage.
Andrew Bird plays the violin throughout most of the set, but switches to guitar and even whistling at some points. Backed by electric guitar, it’s an odd combination, but it works.
Bird lets his music speak volumes; he is a master of mixing the mundane and high-brow. At the end of the evening, as we all depart, I feel as though I have witnessed a true artist at work.