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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Week of Mayhem, Night 1: Andrew Bird, The Hi-Fi, 01/01/10

There's no shame in stating the following: I will never be as talented as Andrew Bird... and I'm okay with that. This is the second time I've seen him; the last time was on the back of "Armchair Apocrypha" (not my favourite A.B. album) and it was stil pretty damn magical. This was just as good, possibly better because of the material from his new album "Noble Beast", which is an amazing album (and a grower, so, stick with it if it didn't click first time).

Oh, yeah, and this was all the more amazing because he did the whole set from a chair with a busted foot. The magnitude of his achievement tonight can only be fully appreciated after you've seen how much tap-dancing on loop pedals he has to do on stage. Apart from being a master on several instruments, he also is one of the only artists I've seen who is able to use a loop pedal in a musical fashion without sounding like... well, a song sounding like it's built around a loop drifting in and out of sync. Even guys like Mick Turner can't get this quite right sometimes, and Mick Turner is one of my favourite guitarists ever. It's hard enough to get a guitarist and a drummer playing to a loop, but to have four guys doing just blows your mind. The rest of the band are quite a nifty set of players; a new guitarist, the same bassist from last time (I think) and Martin Dosh (a.k.a. Dosh who supported him last tour) on drums, drum machines and electric piano.

The setlist had some great rarities and nuggets in the set tonight. I'm the kind of person who loves hearing the embryonic song material just as much as the finished product (stuff like Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot demos, engineer's demos and studio sessions is my favourite shit ever), and tonight's setlist contained a bunch of this kind of stuff. After doing an amazing version of the regular opener "Why?", he prefaced the main set by saying that he was currently interested in doing new songs and old songs the way he originally concieved them, well before they were done the way they are on the album. So, next up was what he called a "kinda mashup" of "Sweet Breads" and "Dark Matter" which was great, and later in the set we got the original version of "Imitosis" (containing lyrics scratched because Walt Disney wouldn't let him borrow a chorus from a Sesame Street song about the letter I).

The setlist below was chopped and changed a little bit; for instance, we got "Headsoak" off the Bowl of Fire album instead of the Dylan cover "Oh Sister" and maybe a few songs swapped around...

The undisputed highlight for me was my favourite track from the new album, "Anonanimal"; just a brilliant rendition that extended beyond the recorded version and shot off into the stratosphere. I can't really describe it. Just gave me chills.

(and, on the "embryonic" tangent, here's a pro-shot live version of a "not quite finished" (but still brilliant) version of "Anonanimal".)

It's going to be very hard to top this this week, or even this year, but there's some good competition... next gig to be reported on will be Yeah Yeah Yeahs at The Forum on Sunday. Should be good. Also coming up this week: King Khan on Monday, Grizzly Bear on Tuesday, (maybe) Aktion Unit on Wednesday at The Old Bar (but we might have band practice), and Future of the Left on Friday... and maybe the DFA crew spinning records after that if we've got the energy. Oh, and wait, our gig at The Birmingham on Thursday! How can we possibly compete??

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