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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Andrew Bird, St Giles in the Fields, Nov 20th 2008

Written by Jenny Stevens


She burps between songs, treat website often forgets the words, more about and sings about wet dreams and peanut butter (Skippy, the crunchy one) – sort of a young Kimya Dawson suffused with Parisian prowess. Soko headlined at the Borderline this Friday for an evening of folk/anti-folk? put on by Platforms Magazine. The Melodica, Melody and Me were there to support - I know the words to all their songs by now but more on them later, their Christmas party on the 22nd of December is a date to keep – as were Jay Jay Pistolet and Planet Earth. She commanded most of them to the stage at various points throughout the set to join in, saying flamboyantly, “um, they’ve never played this before but they’ll pick it up” (repeat out loud in a French accent), and though rough round the edges, it seemed to work, and that’s all part of the charm anyway, no?


You wouldn’t want her to drive your car (not that I have one), but there is something irresistible about her chaotic demure: the more child-like her deliverance, the more charming and hilarious her quirky and brazen lyrics (I’m thinking of “My Wet Dreams” here). She commanded silence and rapturous applause, and her name is surely carved into the hearts of the somewhat young crowd that gathered to the 15 + event.

I found myself humming “I will never love you more” on the bike-ride home, the place where all good songs are mulled over. She’s playing tomorrow night (if you read this now). Expect to leave a small piece of your heart behind.

As the congregation of indie-nerd-folk-checked-shirt-bearded types flocked into the church pews hidden from the bustle of London’s West End, dosage echoes and chattering excitement rang through the nave. Behind a gilded wooden screen, I could see Andrew Bird, wrapped up in wax jacket and scarf, stretching and performing breathing exercises that bring back painful memories of my grade six singing teacher’s living room…

Self entitled ‘multi-instrumentalist’, Chicago based singer-songwriter and classically trained violinist, Bird is the ultimate in US hippy offspring. Musically trained in the Suzuki method from the age of four, Bird makes you want to pack your unborn children with rice cakes and shovel them off to the nearest music school.

He treats us to a spiritual injection of vocal, violin and guitar looped and tangled together, wrapping you up in a smooth melodic blanket. The unforgiving church acoustics are not for the faint at heart. But Bird effortlessly maintains musical perfection throughout the performance. What he lacks as a guitarist he more than makes up for as violinist, vocalist, lyricist and all round musical prodigy.

New album heavy, with only two “oldies”- ‘Armchair Apocrypha’s’ ‘Plasticities’ and the glorious ‘Scythian Empires’, there’s much to be excited about in forthcoming album ‘Noble Beast’, particularly the soulful and reflective ‘Effigy’ and the harmonious ‘Natural Disaster’. A more contemplative Andrew Bird, with the notable absence of infamous ‘Dr Strings’, he had the audience in rapture. Indeed, the deliciously raw cover of ‘Some of These Days’ rang from the altar as though he was making his way back to some celestial home.

If you fancy a lump in your throat, ethereal wonder, and sheer disappointment that you will never EVER be this talented…sit back…and enjoy the Andrew Bird experience.


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