For someone whose mission in life is to hunt down typos and safeguard subject/verb agreement, I miss some big ones. For example, I was sure that these two Andrew Bird shows were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, and I banked on catching the Saturday appearance. So much for those plans! On the bright side, I got an extra lazy day in Los Angeles, and it was totally worth the brutal wake-up call to make my Monday morning flight back home.
Andrew Bird, Largo at the Coronet, October 19, 2008: I easily concede that I'm a latecomer to Andrew Bird's music, but my appreciation has really solidified in the last couple of years. All those shows with Wilco last year and earlier this year didn't hurt, but it really started with a cupcake.
Somewhere along the way, probably after that first time I saw him, it hit me that I'd been a fool to skip his gigs at the old Largo, even that secret show taped for the Largo film that I couldn't have crashed anyway. Really--what was I thinking? Granted, there may have been some concerns about finances and vacation time and other pesky details, but as regular readers already know, I welcome those issues. Oh well, now came the time to make up, at least in part, for those missed opportunities.
And really, if you're going to right your concert wrongs, what better place to atone than at Largo? Not too surprisingly, Andrew started with "Why" and another older song, but that's all it took before he went to the new titles from his forthcoming album, which he mentioned he had finished only two days before. In fact, he debuted five or six new songs, complete with explanations--or as much as he could put in words. Several of the songs referred to the natural world, including one that was inspired by blind, translucent lizard who lived in the caves of Texas and that oddly reminded him of himself. Go figure.
Inspirations aside, the songs were, in a word, sublime, but that's about the only thing I can report about them, as the titles have slipped my mind in the last couple of days. I think one might've been called "Fits and Starts," and there were some references to nature in the other songs. I wish I could say more; all I know is that they were gorgeous, and I can't wait to hear how they sound with a full band.
The older songs, oddly enough, gave Andrew the most trouble. He restarted "Plasticities," for example, a number of times before he found the rhythm he needed (it sounded fine to us). Not that he needed to, but he made up for these imagined shortcomings with lots of laid-back chit chat, eager to share his thoughts on songs old and new. The Largo audience, of course, welcomed them with respectful silence, followed by eager applause.
Opening the show was Haley Bonar from the Twin Cities. I knew nothing about her going in, but she won me over by the end of her set, with her clear, strong voice and charming melodies. She also joined Andrew for one song, accompanying him on electric piano.
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