Jan 6, 2008

Andrew Bird @ Famous Spiegeltent

Well, it's finally here. The Sydney Festival, all set to make us warm and fuzzy in January. And what better place to start then in the Famous Spiegeltent. And the return of the eternally creative Andrew Bird. His first show in Australia this time around was a joy to behold. On a warm Sunday night, he charmed and wowed for an hour and a half, leaving me content and utterly delighted. Andrew Bird is truly a master creator. His efforts to play the violin, the guitar, whistle and sing always look like the work of some mad professor. But somehow he always manages to pull it off.

Andrew Bird's style is quite unique. He doesn't play songs on stage, he builds them brick by brick. Normally starting with a violin, he will invariably loop the sound, before picking up his guitar and launching into song. In fact he loops everything. His guitar, his whistling and sometimes even his voice. He sometimes alternates between seeming vague and then everything clicks and he is in total control. He even seemed to stop a couple of times, as he stumbled on a lyric. Although I wasn't sure if this was tiredness (he only arrived yesterday) or he was just imparting his self evident charm into a song. This time around he was joined on stage by the outstanding multi-instrumentalist Martin Dosh and a skilled bass player. However Mr Bird is the subject of all eyes. Although a good and creative guitarist, his real strength is his violin playing. He plucks and plays with consummate expertise, creating a symphony of beautiful sound. Also, his voice is a major weapon. Soft and powerful in the same song, he ably brings out all the nuances inherent in his songwriting. Although the set list might appear brief, he actually had to shorten it because each song grows and lengthens as they gain new life on stage. He excluded "Heretics", but included a good number off "Armchair Apocrypha" including a stunning version of "Simple X" and a charming rendition of "Scythian Empires". I also enjoyed "Spare-ohs" which was preceded by a delightful story of how Andrew once had a coop of 26 chickens. "Fiery Crash" was also powerful and striking, whilst "Dark Matter" as a closer worked well, as this is a personal favourite. In all, a wonderful night of striking and immensely inventive music. Welcome back to Sydney, Mr Bird.

Set List
Fiery Crash
A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
Opposite Day
Simple X
Scythian Empires
Dark Matter


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