“I am truly touched,” said a barefoot Andrew Bird, bashfully thanking the audience that had come to see his show for singing him a warm rendition of "Happy Birthday." Only Bird knows if it was his special day that brought out a particularly emotional performance at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre on Friday night (July 10), but his was a perfect example of the intimate, personable concert that takes place at the Greek.
In addition to a much-encouraged encore, the entire show lasted hour and fifteen minutes and started with Bird’s eerie, fifteen-minute introduction sans vocals, which captured everyone’s attention and let the audience know it was about to get lost in his musicianship. The Chicago-based, classically trained artist dominated the venue alone with his mastery of the violin until the rest of his band -- Martin Dosh on drums/keyboard, Jeremy Ylvisaker on bass/saxophone and Mike Lewis on guitar -- joined him onstage.
After a slight mishap with one of the microphones, the concert moved along smoothly, with Bird casually chatting with the audience about what he described as his “outdoorsy” pieces, like “ Lull” and “Darkmatter.”
Whoever thinks a loop, delay, or effect pedal is only suitable for guitars needs to see Bird perform. Bird controlled the mix of ballads, lullabies and rock songs with a looper pedal that allowed him to record live, playing a bass line or melody on the violin and capturing it, then playing/recording more violin or other instruments or on top of the already recorded. The overall effect was of one man playing virtually everything, with a nicely contrasting band adding to the voluptuous symphony.
Bird maintained a sexy, unexpected swagger in his vocals that matched the intensity of the violin and never weakened during the show. He held the violin in the same way as an acoustic guitar and plucked its strings in the style of jazz musician, pushing the limits of his instrument during "Opposite Day" when some of the hairs on his bow broke and wove wildly in the air, in sync with his brisk movements.
Bird challenged himself and his bandmates to the point where there was hardly a single pitch, note, key, tempo, or octave that hadn't been uncovered by the end of the night. And though he may have felt touched by the launch of his birthday celebration, the audience was even more touched by his moonlight serenade.
Here is Andrew Bird's setlist: