Andrew Bird at The Riverside Theater: A Review

Andrew Bird visited Milwaukee April 18, where he graced The Riverside Theater’s historic, grandiose stage. Fittingly, this was the warmest day of the year thus far, with uncharacteristically high temperatures in the upper 70s. I like to think he flew here for the spring, but maybe that’s a bit presumptuous.

Bird is one of those artists that transcends age and coolness, as he appeals to a wide range of listeners due to genuine, incredibly sincere vocal, instrumental and lyrical talent. His lyrics play jokes on you, make you laugh, cry, question, and above all else, leave you openmouthed and wide-eyed at his unwavering wit.

Is it folk? Is it rock? Jazz, perhaps? Bird’s violin abilities and general acoustic (not to mention whistling) skills give his rich, steady, confident and classic voice a run for its money. Needless to say, it’s a sight and sound to see live.

Bird performed a wide range of songs, from “A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left” on 2005’s “The Mysterious Production of Eggs” to “Left Handed Kisses,” a duet with Fiona Apple on his most recent album, “Are You Serious,” released earlier this year. Live, Bird sang this track while simultaneously playing his role and Apple’s. Not only did it work, but it was a rare treat, and the song truly encompassed Bird’s lyrical wit, romance, violin riffs and unorthodox song structure.

I could write on Bird’s demeanor alone–something uncommon. At 42, he possesses the obvious joy and passion for performing that so many younger artists lack. His enthusiasm, calm and kind mannerisms, and apologizing for his voice problems and blistered finger (seriously) made me fall a bit in love with him. Spring must undeniably be here.

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