Andrew Bird's unique live show lands at Lakeland on Oct. 8
Student Life - posted on 9/19/2007
You have to see him live.
Andrew Bird's recordings have won him plenty of critical acclaim, but ask any of his fans or the "experts" in the industry, and they'll tell you there's nothing quite like a live Andrew Bird show.
Bird will appear at Lakeland College on Monday, Oct. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Bradley Fine Arts Building. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for non-Lakeland students and can be reserved by contacting Deb Fale at (920) 565-1536 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Though his voice has been compared to such eminent company as Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke and Rufus Wainwright, like those performers, it has a quality all its own. He also adds to the mix his unnatural whistling ability, rendering him capable of adding organically generated yet otherworldly sounds to the mix.
The live setting is where he becomes one with his songs. At first, it is a curious attraction - one man, generating the wealth of sound normally produced by an orchestra. Each night, song parts are constructed on violin, guitar and glockenspiel, layered, then looped over themselves in a tangled and textured layer cake of sonics.
Bird rarely replicates a song's perfect structure as it lives on the album, but rather lends an improvisatory aspect to the performance. More recently, the scope and range of the live show has been expanded to incorporate songs from his latest album, "Armchair Apocrypha," with Andrew's main live collaborator, drummer Martin Dosh, also joined by multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Ylvisaker.
Bird spent his formative years soaking up classical repertoire completely by ear, so when it came time for a restless teen-ager to make the jump to Hungarian Gypsy music, early jazz, country blues, south Indian etc., it wasn't such a giant leap. It's fitting that now, though classically trained, he has instead opted to play his violin in a most unconventional manner, accompanying himself on glockenspiel and guitar, adding singing and whistling to the equation, and becoming a pop songwriter in the process.
Since beginning his recording career, Bird has released nine albums: six studio albums, both solo and with his former group the Bowl of Fire, and three live albums. "Armchair Apocrypha," released earlier this year, brings the tally to 10. It is an album that sums up where Bird's career has taken him, yet is very much of his artistic present.
His first band, Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire, recorded three albums for Rykodisc from 1997 to 2001: "Thrills" revisited early 20th century jazz and folk forms and made them fierce again; "Oh! The Grandeur" pulsed with dark undertones and gypsy balladry; and "The Swimming Hour" fused rock and soul predilections into a mixture that drew comparisons to such diverse predecessors as the Beatles, Talking Heads, obscure European folk, and country blues.
His three live records, "Fingerlings," "Fingerlings 2" and (you guessed it) "Fingerlings 3" document his last nine years on the road through various renditions of works in progress, unreleased covers, collaborations and concert versions of songs from his studio albums. Naming Fingerlings 2 their December 2004 Album of the Month, Mojo raved that "Bird is simply incredible live." Armed with a violin, an electric guitar, a glockenspiel, and a sampler, Bird's shows achieve a rare mixture of both spontaneity and precision, "Every night," he notes, "I am rewriting all my songs for the audience."
Bird's 2005 studio album, "The Mysterious Production of Eggs," was a breakthrough for him both commercially and artistically, with exuberant praise from a wide variety of sources, and a dramatic increase in attendance at his unique live performances, as he made good on the London Independent's prediction: "Bird could do for independent American music what Tarantino did for American cinema."
He has also impressed huge festival audiences at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, SXSW, the Montreal Jazz Festival, Radio France, and made appearances on the BBC, KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" and NPR's "World Cafe" and "All Things Considered."
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