Andrew Bird made a triumphant return to his former hometown Chicago with four consecutive sold out concerts at Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Ave. Then he capped the week with a final, fifth night at Chicago's favorite roadhouse: The Hideout. The contrast between the venues couldn't be greater, yet each were perfect in their own way.
Fourth Presbyterian Church Chicago
A nearly-annual event, Bird performed perched on chancel in this cathedral-sized sanctuary making these concerts majestic and deserving of the space. The run of concerts titled "Gezelligheid" (a Dutch term for cozy, fun, and nice) created an atmosphere that was just that.
Bird played amongst props that were several oversized theatrical-lit Victrola-styled speakers creating a whimsical stage set. Sound-wise, the church was an acoustically live room allowing a magnificent ambiance that brought out the best in Bird's songs and performance.
Seemingly a shy person, on stage Bird draws his audience in sharing antidotes and the origins of his own penned compositions, as well as covered songs: "My Sister's Tiny Hands" The Handsome Family, "When the World's on Fire" The Carter Family, "Harvest" Neil Young and "Oh Sister" Dylan.
Next to his songwriting, it is his mastery of violin and guitar that keeps everyone enthralled. He plays with a certain intimacy and intricacy that is unique to his own style. But his musical signature extends to a melodic whistling that becomes an instrument of itself, adding additional texture of his arrangements. There was a warmth in the room, and a sense of gathering by all. Something refreshing these days.
December 14th Set List:
Orpheo Looks Back
My Sister's Tiny Hands
Give It Away
When the World's on Fire
Left Handed Kisses
Greensleeves/So Much Wine
Three White Horses
Bloodless For Now
Pulaski at Night