Posted in music | pictures on May 7, 2012

by Dominick Mastrangelo

Andrew Bird

For the better part of 10 minutes Friday night, at his first of two NYC shows, Andrew Bird, he the all-world whistler/musical alchemist, said not a word. Before he was joined on stage by the rest of his band and before laying down his crooning baritone, Bird started his show at the Beacon Theatre flexing his multi-instrumental talent: whistling, tapping out a loop on the xylophone, plucking his violin, looping that. Adding a bit of guitar.

In a review a few years ago, I said Bird was like a mad scientist the way he flutters about the stage pulling all his instruments into gorgeously complex arrangements. And for sure, his aw-shucks demeanor and professorial (some would surely add dreamy) looks - all suits, sport coats, and perpetual five o'clock shadow - affirm this.

When I saw him at Tarrytown in October it was just he and collaborator/drummer Martin Dosh. Bird took his time and was more self-indulgent. And rightfully so.

On Friday, with a full band, Bird seemed more focused and inclined to stay on task as they attacked songs like "Eyeoneye" and "Danse Caribe" (both from his new full-length Break It Yourself) with purpose and ferocity.

When someone in the audience shouted "Measuring Cups!", Bird responded, "We can do that. We hadn't planned to..." And following the song he chipped in, "Happy to oblige."

But it was the old tyme part of the show where the band truly excelled. "What you hear is what we hear," Bird said following "Effigy", which, like songs "Give It Away," and the encore's cover of Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You", was performed around a solitary microphone. The songs also featured upright bass, adding to the folksy and, yeah, old tyme feel.

"Action/Adventure" from Weather Systems was also re-introduced. "Hadn't done this one in a long time," Bird admitted, "and never with a full band." All the while Bird waved his hand in the air, wagged his finger around trying to driving home his point like an animated lecturer.

A particularly intense version of "Plasticities" preceded the set closer "Tables and Chairs." "Fake Palindromes" wrapped up the show to a standing ovation.

Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson was the first night opener and is cut from the same cloth as Andrew Bird. His songs build in much the way Bird's do, going from quiet intros to soaring highs, dropping to hushed tones before coming back in. The title track is a good example. But there were no weak spots in this set, "Quiet Crowd," "Into Giants," and particularly "Words In The Fire" all impressed. Watson also pulled his band out from behind their positions to perform around a solo microphone. Bird even paid tribute to Watson during his set saying, "You know you're doing well when you can have openers of that level."

Watson played a 2nd NYC show -an early one, at Manhattan Inn on Saturday, right before Tift Merritt opened for Andrew Bird at the second Beacon show (where Tift joined Andrew on stage to help perform "Lusitania" much like St. Vincent did at Coachella).

More pictures from Friday and the setlist from Saturday, below...

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Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird at Beacon Theatre - May 5. 2012 setlist
Carrion Suite
Sifters
(Instrumental)
Danse Caribe
Desperation Breeds...
Polynation
Action/Adventure
Lusitania (with Tift Merritt)
Orpheo Looks Back
Eyeoneye
Give It Away
Effigy
So Much Wine (The Handsome Family cover)
Dear Dirty
Near Death Experience Experience
Plasticities
Fatal Shore
Tables and Chairs
Fake Palindromes
Encore:
I'm Goin' Home (Charley Patton cover)
If I Needed You (Townes Van Zandt cover)

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Comments (15)

LOL @ the "scarf" is the new "beard"

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 12:56 PM

As someone who saw the Saturday show not really knowing anything about him other than a few tunes, I will say this: Dude is ridiculously talented. It's not often you get to see virtuoso violin playing in a rock setting. Very sophisticated arrangements and presentation. I guess I can see why he might be a bit precious for some people but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 1:12 PM

^ did you wear your scarf too?

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 1:17 PM

nah I am not really a scarf guy.

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 1:17 PM

^ well, you've got that going for ya! More than I can say for the BirdMan

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 1:26 PM

the sound was spectacular.

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 1:30 PM

the scarf didn't even last three songs before he took it off, give it a rest

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 2:42 PM

zzzzzzzz

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 3:05 PM

He has not been playing much old stuff at all during the last two tours. Kind of a bummer.

Posted by Mandrew Word | May 7, 2012 4:36 PM

Did the sock monkey take a solo too? Did he pop up and do that "How ya like me now!" joint like in that commercial?

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 4:42 PM

Check out more photos of Andrew Bird's 5/4/12 performance at the Beacon Theatre:

http://www.msgsoundcheck.com/photos/andrew-bird-at-the-beacon/andrew-bird.html

Posted by Anonymous | May 8, 2012 1:49 PM

Hi - I was at Saturday's show, but so sad to have missed Patrick Wilson on Friday night. Did he play "To Build a Home?"

Thank you,

Penelope

Posted by Penelope | May 8, 2012 2:39 PM

penelope, he did not! does he ever do that without the cinematic orchestra?

Posted by the human factor | May 10, 2012 3:18 AM

A good insight and ideas.. I will use it in my article. You’ve obviously spent a lot of time on this. Congratulations!

Posted by jocuri | August 31, 2012 6:51 AM

andrew bird rules.

Posted by jordon | July 31, 2013 4:40 PM

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