As a long-time fan of Andrew Bird, it was about time that I attended one of his live performances . . . Be it that his concert in Philadelphia fell on a Monday night; I was once again skeptical that I would make it, as Monday’s are often a struggle (especially with work following closely Tuesday morning). Yet, with the exciting news of Andrew Bird’s new album release, “Are you Serious?” I mustered up the little energy I had left from a long day and made my way to the Electric Factory.
What initially caught my ear when discovering Andrew Bird was his aggressive, yet tranquil, use of the violin. A revolutionary style that incorporates finger-picking, a whistle that resonates like a finely tuned instrument (which I doubt anyone could replicate), and his beautiful, twisted, and meaningful lyrics that often paint a story or send a message, if you dare listen close enough. In listening to Bird’s older albums, one will notice his varying renditions of many songs, each unique, striking and befitting of the song in its own right. His unique signature can be viewed even further by watching videos of his live performances at festivals such as Bonaroo as well as haunting performances like his concert at the Guggenheim highlighting and amplifying his eerie sound with the help of special double-headed rotating speakers Andrew calls the “Janis horn”.
Little to say, I had very high expectations as I walked into the Electric Factory on that frigid Monday night in April… yet Andrew Bird‘s performance that night far exceeded even my lofty expectations! Like many great musicians, Andrew Bird’s music has continued to evolve over time and although his new album “Are You Serious?” sounds quite different from many of his older tunes, the eclectic sounds continue to showcase his extraordinary musicianship. I was surprised to see no Janis horns on stage, but was elated with Bird’s use of live looping his own music. He would start by recording a melody on his violin, then loop it while switching to the guitar, which of course he layered with his impressive picking and awe-inspiring whistle, clever [and true to life] lyrics and he even sprinkled in some xylophone!
No need for the Janis horns, as “Are You Serious” definitely has a much different feel than his prior albums. Starting with “Capsized,” the album boasts many exceptional and musically eclectic songs, including “Chemical Switches,” a love song duet featuring Fionna Apple “Left-Handed Kisses,” “Are You Serious,” and “Valley’s of the Young.” In “Saints Preservus” I believe I caught some hints of sounds that reminded me of the classic Shins songs and perhaps even some Of Montreal. Not something I recall noticing as much in his older music. At Bird’s performance at the Electric Factory, he played the new album in its entirety, including the duet, “Left-Handed Kisses,” which he performed himself, after apologizing that his partner couldn’t make it to sing with him, but getting a laugh from the crowd as he followed up with the likes of “back to my twisted mind where it all started”. He graced Philadelphia with a special version of “Bellevue,” a historic, yet beautiful, song from the album that he left unfinished, and sang it in its entirety for us. After this dazzling performance I had no choice but to buy the extended version of his new album, “Are You Serious?” that contains two bonus tracks.
Andrew Bird also sprinkled in renditions of some of our favorite older tunes including “Imotosis” and “Plasticities“. Andrew Bird’s performance at the Electric Factory is truly one of the best concerts that I have been to in my life…. And believe me when I say that I have been to A LOT of concerts. Andrew Bird is simply one of the best musicians out there today and if you ever have the opportunity to catch one of his live performances, seize it and get ready for some musical amazement. You can catch him at one of his upcoming performances on Thursday, February 2nd and Friday, February 3rd at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY!
For those of you who haven’t heard of Andrew Bird, please check out the following sites for more information:
If you love music, purchase Andrew Bird’s newest album. “Are You Serious?” If you are passionate about the topic and like writing, feel free to write an album review and send it to us at TheMusicVibes@gmail.com and we will feature on our webpage and Facebook!
Andrew Bird’s Upcoming Tour Dates:
FEB 02 MADISON SQUARE GARDEN W/ THE LUMINEERS – NEW YORK, NY
FEB 03 MADISON SQUARE GARDEN W/ THE LUMINEERS – NEW YORK, NY TICKETS
APR 04 MISSION CREEK FESTIAL – IOWA CITY, IA TICKETS
APR 13 BYRON BAY BLUESFEST – BYRON BAY, AUSTRALIA TICKETS
APR 15 SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE – SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA TICKETS
APR 18 MELBOURNE RECITAL HALL – SOUTHBANK, AUSTRALIA
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