“Noble Beast” Andrew Bird Concert Review by Justine Marzoni
Musician Andrew Bird lives true to what his surname would imply. He can definitely sing, and he can whistle with the best of them. He and his band are currently on tour to promote the release of his new album, “Noble Beast,” and, last Sunday evening, they graced the stage of SOMA with a beautiful amalgam of vocals, strings and even some glockenspiel.
To capture the essence of Bird is difficult because of his eclectic and complex sound. One way to describe him is a hybridization of Jon Brion and Sufjan Stevens with the composing sense of Radiohead, the voice of Jeff Buckley and the uncanny ability to whistle perfectly on pitch. Trained as a traditional violinist, Bird’s influence of classical music is also apparent.
Sunday night, Bird introduced himself to his audience by demonstrating his ability to be the ultimate one-man-band. With the help of loop recordings, Bird featured his talent as a violinist, guitarist and composer even before the rest of his band stepped on stage. Once joined with another guitarist, a bassist and a drummer, Bird really kicked off his set by playing “Masterswarm” from his new album. Soon enough, even the coolest of indie kids in the crowd couldn’t help but sway to his subtle dancey melodies.
What made this particular show special was the way in which Bird was able to utilize elements of performance, which if used by other people might come off as a cheap gimmick, but fit perfectly for him and worked to his advantage.
When he wasn’t captivating the crowd with his music, Bird charmed his fans between sets with wry comments and his modest stage presence. Unfortunately, about three fourths of the way through his set, Bird ran into some technical difficulties, but he managed to remain composed. While waiting for the problem to be fixed, he even answered some requests and played “Dr. Stringz,” a song he performed for a children’s television show on the Noggin network.
The high points of the show included the beefy baseline and clarinet solo in “Not a Robot but a Ghost.” Loney Dear, a Swedish band who opened for Bird, revisited the stage to play along with the melancholy yet inspiring “Privateers.”
After playing most of the songs from “Noble Beast,” Bird wound down the show with the sexy sound of “Imitosis” and “Tables and Chairs” from two of his earlier albums.
Overall Bird delivered a beautiful performance and gathered a dedicated crowd. Next time however, I suggest he play a different venue. Had the show been the same sans the technical difficulties and 12-year-old hipsters, it would’ve been perfect.