LIVE: An Intimate Evening With Andrew Bird And A Special Bearded Guest At Largo (01/17/13)
By Bailey Pennick on January 21, 2013
Largo at the Coronet
Los Angeles, California
January 17, 2013
Andrew Bird has spent the last two decades wrapped in an air of mystique thanks to his gorgeous melodies, his patented whistling, chiseled jaw and the sheer fact that the violin is his number one instrument of choice. Easily considered a music festival staple, the Chicago native had presented himself on these massive stages as a timeless musician full of whimsy—complete with the stage dressing of his spinning phonographs. But there was always a sense of privacy that made Bird seem like an uncrack-able code as an individual. This sense of separation between Bird and his fans was eradicated at his Los Angeles performance Thursday night leaving the intimate crowd feeling like they better understand the genius, and the personality, of the man behind the fiddle.
The evening started with an opening set by a bearded comedian who asked not to be identified by the press (but you can see him in all of the Hangover movies) who professed his love for Bird and their deep friendship. After twenty minutes of hearing the sold-out crowd giggling in the tiny theater, Bird appeared and jumped right into his short solo set of intricate instrumentals complete with his signature loops and the glockenspiel. Right when it seemed that the light and comedic tone of the evening had given way to the beautiful and poetic side of Bird, his first words to the crowd proved the contrary:
“It’s so wonderful to see you all, even though I can’t see any of you!”
Not-Bradley-Cooper-or-Ed-Helms appeared from the wings screaming “He stole that joke from my notebook!”
The giggling returned and all was right inside Largo.
After performing a handful of tracks unaccompanied, Bird returned to the stage with Jeremy Ylvisaker (guitar), Alan Hampton (stand-up bass), a single microphone to sing around and an old-timey folk and bluegrass influenced set that could warm any heart. Performing covers and songs mostly from his last two albums Break It Yourself and Hands Of Glory (plus a light-hearted and semi-talked version of “Sovay” from 2005’s Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production Of Eggs), Bird introduced each song with a little story: about his songwriting process, his old French teacher’s thoughts on “Something Biblical,” or his immense love of old standards. With each segue and beautifully executed three-part harmony, the audience gained more insight to Bird’s fanciful personality and what inspires him.
The trust between artist and audience peaked when Bird divulged his idea and complete theme song for a new television show entitled "Professor Socks" which follows around a professor and his “cheesy animatronic” fox sidekick who can time travel and solve mysteries after putting on his special socks and sliding across the floor. Even Bird couldn’t get through the four minute song without breaking up in laughter.
This goofy, delightful and passionate side of Bird came out in such intensity that it was easy to forget that you were in a small theater in West Hollywood, and instead think that the violinist had invited you to his own home draped with toys and rugs everywhere. His rich voice and amazing stage presence mesmerized the crowd who were so enthralled, they didn’t even realize that Bird played barely any old material.
His brief encore was a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You”—he didn’t pick a single from one of his albums, or a new song that he was trying to push onto the audience, he picked a song that he treasured and wanted to play.
In his infinitely whimsical (and wise) way, Bird reminded us that concerts aren’t necessarily about seeing your favorite song performed, but about falling in love with music again. F