An excellent gig from the American singer/violinist/whistler and all round multi-instrumentalist, with an ideal venue to match. Last time I saw Andrew Bird at Shepherd’s Bush Empire earlier this year he played with a full band, but this time he played solo. The band added a lot to the songs, and in a way I probably pereferred that performance, but seeing one man create such a rich tapestry of sounds alone was far more impressive. Using a loop pedal he builds up layers of violin (plucked and bowed – are those the correct terms!?) and by the end you’d think there was a full string orchestra playing, especially with the amazing acoustics of the venue.
Only having his most recent album, the rather brilliant Noble Beast, I had meant to listen to some of his previous albums before this gig. I sadly didn’t get around to it, so I didn’t know a great deal of the songs. That didn’t matter too much, but it would have been nice to know more. He played about 4 or 5 tracks from the afforementioned album, including opener ‘Oh No’, and ‘Anonanimal’ and ‘Tenuousness’, but the highlight for me was ‘Effigy’, complete with the story of the song beforehand. There were a fair few from previous albums, including a crowd request of ‘Plasticities’, which I didn’t know, but enjoyed. Also thrown in were a few new songs, and works in progress.
All in all a very enjoyable show, and yet another gig to benefit from the beautiful surroundings of the Union Chapel (even if the seats are painful after a while!). Glad to have seen him both solo and with band now, and will hopefully encourage me to further explore his back catalogue.