During the cab ride from our extremely-reasonably priced room at the Westin Hotel Bonaventureto the night’s show my wife and I sat in silence. Anticipation was sitting in between the two of us in the back seat, while Spontaneity was riding shotgun watching the fare climb. We were definitely excited and had not been able to stop whistling all day. Hopefully we were not the only ones who had been awaiting the arrival of the man that had been whistling away on our stereo at home and his wonderful violin skills at The Orpheum Theatre.
Upon arrival at The Orpheum we were pleased to see that this show was indeed Sold Out. Upon first purchase, and up until the day previous, there were still seats available and considering our overall excitement for the event we would have felt like real healshad it not have been a full house. Were we getting old? Were we not as hip and music savy as we thought?? Nevertheless, we got out of the cab and made our way across the street to the quaint little theatre nestled between the over-stated and seemingly packed Broadway Bar and an nondescript traffic corner.
While technically located in the Historic Broadway Theater District, the street’s current residents tend to be just that–residents of the street and what awaited us inside was nowhere near what we had expected to find this far into Skid Row, but it was only 7:30 and the Freaks had not yet come out on this night. Opening in February 1926 and hosting a wide array of acts from burlesque queen Sally Rand, a young Judy Garland (as Francis Gumm) and comedian Jack Benny, to jazz greats like Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington the feel of the structure was one of a long-ago confidence and swagger. The bar located downstairs in conjunction with the large parlor, or sitting room, lent to the night a sense of sophistication while still being young enough to invite all types. The fact that they were pouring jugs of Woodbridgeas the house wine did not diminish the the charm of the wood paneled and intricate door jammed walls of the parlor. If anything the opening act was the Orpheum itself and my wife and myself were in for quite a show.
As we settled down to our seats, a few rows up the middle isle from the stage and the first two seats in the row, we were taken aback by what layed upon the stage. Huge horns of various colors and heights, tube amps with a nostalgic-yet-now look and feel packed the stage in a display out of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Sounds of Andrew Bird’s other new Album “Useless Creatures” – a main stay in our house since receipt a month ago from Fat Possum Records– were wafting through the intimate setting and we were tickled with excitement; and scotch.
The lights dimmed, music softened and we got out our camera ready to snap some good ‘ol **black-and-white analog pictures. The show was to begin. Just when we got the light right on the camera, we were caught unaware and out walked 5 fuzzy foreigners. That was last time we would question the 5 piece.
Loney, dear is a 5 piece led by Emil Svanagen, a Swedish singer and former pro cyclist. Their songs are ones of a barren landscape; cold-dancy with a sense of purpose. It was just the thing to pair with the flipfloaty cloud-chasing kite music of Andrew Bird. The intensity and conviction Svanagen puts to word is one to hear and hear we did. The setting itself was perfect and the always-arm-crossed-impress me LA crowd actually helped the singer/songwriter achieve total control over the crowd to showcase the bands other-worldly talents. At points in the performance not a sound but Loney, dear could be heard until the rousing Standing Ovation. With a sound similar to Sigur Rós, except all it’s own, and writing like a Ben Gibbard or Sinead O’Connor silence was once again near and took the crowd more than once past anticipation and straight into spontaneity. Excellent!
Having been completely blown away we made our way down stairs yet again for a refill and a quick sit. The merch line was packed and My wife, their new number 1 fan, could not stop talking about Loney, dear. I had to agree with her. At one point as the crowd was completely silent and all his, Svanagen had us singing a melody behind one of thier songs with such sweetness and sincerity that it rivaled a church procession. Truly moved we returned to our seats.
After the first two courses, The Orpheum itself and Loney, dear , the main course was awaiting our hungry ears. Out stepped Andrew Bird. The crowd, understandably rose up and gave him a hearty welcome as he started in on his set. “Oh, No” was served first accompanied on drums by multi-instrumentalist Martin Dosh who played throughout the show and who got the tempo going rather quick and meaty to our surprise; accessing his own electronica influences superbly. Dirty and fuzzy sounds were right there with the smooth soothing violin; as if to wake the audience. Bird then went on to display his Electric Guitar solo skills on “Fitz and the Dizzyspells” another cut from his new release. Even “Fake Palindromes,” a song we were considering for our wedding last year and off of the must-have The Mysterious Production of Eggs, took on a heavier-rockier undertone and made the classic a little more morbid and sneaky.
If there was one constant throughout the show it was the daft use of looping machines, whistling and multi-instrumentation. Having not seen the process in person I had not really grasped the genius of it until that night. Beginning one song Bird played and recorded a loop, let it cycle, only to be displeased with it and started again to a much better end.
The songs performed from past records had been well revisited by Bird and taken to a new heights, if you will; always an extra loop or whistle seemingly spontanious and always easy to swallow. Talk of calcium deficentcy and swapping blood with formaldehyde, self-awareness and self-doubt, love lost and love found, all working together. Mixing in and out looping back and forth with and without each other. Played and voiced with different instruments and genres; Andrew Bird truly is the master of his own mind. For one night my wife and myself got a glimpse into the mind of the man who had been trapped in our stereo for the past four years and we cannot wait to put him back in and continue to whistle right along.
**Once our Analog Pictures have been developed, made digital, they will be posted.
Filed under: live, music | Tagged: Ben Gibbard, broadway bar, duke ellington, ella fitzgerald, Emil Svanagen, fat possum records, impossible city, jack benny, judy garland, loney dear, Martin Dosh, orpheum, pro cycling, sigur rós, Sinead O'Connor, The Mysterious Production of Eggs, westin hotel bonaventure, wilco, woodbridge |