First of all, Andrew Bird is playing with a bassist now. Why did no one tell me that? I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical of this move at first. Part of the wonder of an Andrew Bird show has always been watching him create each song, layer by layer, right before your eyes. Well, color me impressed, because the show was quite possibly the best of the six times that I’ve seen him.
The only real time I can pinpoint that the bassist made a difference was during the crowd favorite “Fake Palindromes.” It’s always been the most difficult of his set, what with the quick jump-in of the violin riff and the reliance on guitar. To remedy the situation, Bird’s extra set of hands moved over to guitar to allow him freedom not known in any of the past two years’ incarnations.
After the first song (“Imitosis?”), Bird announced that they would be trying for a more rocking set than usual — a move which was met with thunderous applause. As a means to that end, they tore through extended versions of nearly every song on Armchair Apocrypha, and a healthy number of old ones. It took him three tries on the intro, but Bird finally nailed a fully wonderful take of “Skin Is, My” — possibly my favorite of his. For the encore, he returned solo to perform the dramatic-as-always “Why?” and a full band performance of “Tables and Chairs.”