Andrew Bird

Orpheum Theatre (Boston)

30 January 2009

After a lukewarm but warmly-received opening by the Swedish indie-folk group Lonely Dear, amidst a constant shuffle of activity to and from the bathroom (blame the $10 cups of Harpoon IPA!), Andrew Bird appeared alone on stage wearing a dark suit. He played a few notes on the violin, or perhaps even a whole tune—I don’t remember—but he earned his second round of applause when he leaned down to untie his shoes. Those bright red socks must be the source of his musical powers.

Boston was stop number two on the Noble Beast tour. Some of the numbers were a little rough around the edges, with several false starts, tuning problems, and frequent on-stage appearances by a tracksuit-clad guitar tech. Bird, ever the perfectionist, apologized if it seemed that the band was “playing stickball in a sandlot,” but nobody minded at all. The show simply rocked.

The concert climaxed at the first encore, when Bird re-appeared alone to pluck, bow, and wail his way through a complex and dramatic live version of “Why?” The muse had clearly possessed him: his violin exuded virtuosity and his pipes became inexplicably calibrated to deliver a maximum of raw emotion. The audience was on their feet and the air was electric—boisterous men stood mostly silent, languid women swayed, and a few girls near the front of the house interjected screams like they were on the brink of ripping their clothes off.

Verdict: see it if you can.