Andrew Bird entered through a crooked door to the right of the stage at The Palace Theatre Friday night, and onto a stage that resembled a sort of worn, antiquated living room. To the applause of his audience, he picked up his violin from the case on a stand next to him, mounted it against his collar bone, and – perhaps for a brief moment – smiled before beginning to play. To me, there has always been something regal in the sound of a single violin being played. It can resonate a level of emotion that cannot be replicated in a guitar or a piano. Notes can bend and sound different depending on the angle and attack of a bow. And as Andrew Bird began to move his fingers up and down the fingerboard, shredding notes like a guitarist, I was reminded of how majestic a violin is. It’s not often it’s the front-and-center sound or instrument of a Indie Rock singer. But it was at this moment, as I remembered that Andrew Bird was an Indie Rock singer, that he put down his bow, and began to pluck the violin like a mandolin.
The rest of his band took the stage as he continued to play, each joining in at their own time, and beginning “Sisyphus” off of Bird’s newest record My Finest Work Yet. Behind him on the stage, visuals entered and exited the windows hanging above the band. At times, a lone man with a violin stood in the window. Shadow puppets of birds, Tv static, and spooky halloween puppets of ghosts and ghouls danced in and out of the window panes during his songs. In between songs, he was quick to mention The Current, who was also livestreaming the event. “One of the greatest radio stations on the Country” He said, MPR Members cheering, “Along with Terrestrial Radio.”
Fans at the Palace were treated to many of Bird’s songs spanning from most of his catalog. After performing “Don The Struggle” and “Bellevue Bridge Club”, Both in sequential order on My Finest Work Yet. He said into the microphone, “That’s the end of Side A” As if we were flipping a record over to the other side. In a way, we were. The band stood up from their assigned spots on the stage, and walked close to the door they had entered from, all performing “Give It Away” off of 2012’s Break it Yourself in a bluegrass style arrangement around one Microphone. Bird duetted with Madison Cunningham (Who opened for Andrew Bird and, by the way, has a fantastic new record out last month) The “Old Timey” Set included a reach back to 2006’s Fingerlings 3 with a performance of “Tin Foil”. Bird “Enjoyed doing a duet with Madison, so we’ll do another one” He said before singing with Madison on “Lusitania” again off of 2012’s Break it Yourself, originally written and sung on the album with Annie Clark (of St. Vincent fame)
It was this cozy, family-gathering type feel that the crowd really seemed to enjoy as the band dug back into the roots of all kinds of music. The encore set included a few covers, like Duke Ellingtons “Desert Caravan”. In between songs, Bird had announced that this show was the last stop on his tour. As the crowd cheered and died down, Bird again stepped up to the microphone. “I just want to shred. I just want to party!” He said. Fans were then treated to a knee-slapping, boot stomping rendition of “Railroad Bill” Again duetting with Madison Cunningham, and with Ted Poor chugging along on Drums, and Alan Hampton behind the group on the Upright base. Ending the night, The band treated us to “Pulaski At Night” off of Bird’s 2013 EP of the same name.
Throughout the course of the night, A large Graphophone sat behind the band, at times spinning, and other times holding still. It was the Graphophone that really added to the crooked, antiquated living room feel of the show. As if you were watching a few of your musically inclined family members sit down and perform a few songs that you’ve heard before, but could only whistle along to. Luckily, you could do that many of Andrew Birds songs. He certainly does too.