Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Oct 20th 2009 11:30AM by Jillian Mapes
Bird -- shoeless and clad in rainbow socks -- engaged the audience with witty, oft-absurd stage banter and complimented the venue, a relic of the past wrought with 19th-Century charm. "I thought singing about Mad Cow Disease wasn't a good idea at first," Bird said, prefacing a heavily improvised version of 'Dark Matter,' off 2007's 'Armchair Apocrypha.' "Now I just don't care."
In fact, a heavily improvisational style defined Monday's performance as a whole. Guitar slung over his back, Bird alternated his plucking between a Gibson six-string and his violin as he played 'A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left.' It was the first time of the night Bird had even touched his guitar, instead preferring his violin on just one of many songs he played from earlier solo albums.
In fact, it was not even until halfway through his performance that Bird played a song from 'Noble Beast,' released earlier this year -- a fact he commented on before playing 'Effigy.' "This is a song about a guy who sits at the end of the bar alone, doing fantasy sketches of people in the bar," Bird said before forgetting the violin intro to 'Effigy.' "It sounds a lot like stuff I already played, so, uh, I'm just going to skip it," he said as he traded his violin for his electric guitar.
Bird's performance reached full-on 'VH1 Storytellers' heights, as he explained the stories behind some of his most-loved songs. It seems a kitten-infested alley outside a club in Atlanta, which Bird described as "malarial," served as the inspiration for 'Natural Disaster.' Bird also shed light on the song's mentioning of the respiratory disorder pluracy, from which he once suffered -- an anecdote to which a woman in the crowd asked, "From weed?" Bird, who had just finished explaining that it was because he played in smoky bars, seemed taken aback by the comment.
After complimenting the musical talents of Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), the Texas vocalist/guitarist joined him to play a new song, which was followed by a duet of Clark's 2007 song 'Marry Me.' Bird, who typically plays live shows solo, was soon joined by St. Vincent's backing band to play a rousing version of 'Scythian Empires.' What started as a playful, toe-tapping tune escaladed into a crescendo of flutes, violins and guitars.
Clark and Bird emerged for a one-song encore to cover Bob Dylan's 'Oh, Sister,' with St. Vincent manning the acoustic guitar and Bird's signature whistle taking the lead. The pair had such a comfortable ease between them that it seems obvious that one can suspect that Bird and Clark will continue to collaborate in the future.