Review: Andrew Bird @ The Fillmore

Andrew Bird @ The Fillmore, February 19, 2009

First off, props to the crowd at Andrew Bird’s Thursday show at The Fillmore. Humanity is evolving. We all had some personal space, there was a minimum of chatter and a lot of enthusiasm for Mr. Bird as well as his opening band, Loney Dear. It’s never easy as a tall photographer, especially when there’s no photo pit. You know you’ll be in someone’s way, even if it is just for two songs. It really puts me in a great mood when the folks about me are friendly and understanding.

Loney Dear, the moniker of Swedish bedroom pop singer/songwriter Emil Svanängen, opened the show. They reminded me of a cross between Clap Your Hands and Okkervil River; That’s a good thing. Emil was willing to take risks that you usually don’t see with an opening band. Singing off mic, conducting sing-alongs and generally enjoying the opportunity to introduce himself to a wider audience. “I am John” a song from 2007, has been on my playlists since it’s release, and I was tickled to hear it performed with such joy and energy with a full band.

OK, on to the main event. If you’re familiar with Andrew Bird‘s performance MO, you’ve got a good idea of how the show went down. Andrew loops bits of live performance – often starting with a plucked pizzicato violin bit (usually 4 – 16 bars) and then the fun starts with layering on all kinds of accompaniment including (but not limited to) whistling, hand claps, guitar, vocals, bowed violin parts, etc until a lovely swoon-inducing ditty emerges. He’s perfected his live looping art to such a degree that it looks effortless and the songs just seem to emerge effortlessly.

Andrew Bird has a new album, Noble Beast, that hit the shelves (or should I say servers?) just a few weeks ago. In the past few weeks he’s been enjoying much critical acclaim and a big spotlight, appearing on the Tonight Show, the Late Show as well as his Washington DC show being featured on an NPR All Music Considered. The attention is well deserved, and Thursday’s show was a shining example of the man at his best. He is one of those performers who puts heart and soul into what he does. As a photographer, that’s my kind of show. I love trying to capture what makes the music and the evening so special. So as is my MO, I’ll stop with the words and focus on the images. I hope I’ve done the evening justice.

Set list: Instrumental / Masterswarm / Opposite Day / Natural Disaster / Effigy / Oh No / A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left / Fitz and Dizzy Spells / Not a Robot, But a Ghost / Armchairs / Anonanimal / Fake Palindromes / Imitosis / Tables and Chairs // Why? / Don’t Be Scared