Review: Andrew Bird @ St Giles Church

A few weeks ago I booked my ticket to see Andrew Bird play in London, the novelty being that he would play in a church.  This made me even more excited that I would have otherwise been. I was suprised to see the show sold out so quickly, and there was a second date added to  meet this extra demand for Mr Bird.

From 5pm-6pm I had an accounting exam, which I failed miserably. I couldn’t figure out the answers, the questions were sneaky and threw in loads of irrelevant information to confuse us, and it worked. Luckily for me I don’t care that much about accounting so I was able to quicly dispense of the feeling of failure in favour of thinking about how awesome the Andrew Bird show would be. I finished at 6 and managed to get all the way from my uni, which is on Northampton Square (Islington) all the way across rush hour London to St Giles in the Fields (Soho) in 25 minutes. I power walked. My friends thought I was crazy and should get the tube, but walking is better for you! And cheaper, and in this case, quicker.

When I got to the church I met up with CrazyBobbles and we waited around for the church doors to open. There was a sign warning patrons that there is only one toilet. Useful information. The doors opened a little early and we went inside and got seats on the best pew, front left. The people behind us were saving the whole of the second pew for their friends, so as more and more people arrived in the church and asked ‘can we sit there?’ they constantly turned them away, even though there was more than enough room for more people to sit in the pew. It was mean.

St Giles in the Fields church is 300 years old. It’s pretty cavernous but somehow remains quite intimate and cosy. The lights were really dim and we joked that they were trying to sedate us so that we would be completely passive by the time the gig started. Bob and I chatted about gigs and camera lenses and he gave me one of his awesome business cards he just had made by Moo. I got one of Kevin Barnes in his gold underwear painted red. Yay. I might get some of Moo cards myself (not that I really have many occasions to give them out) just because they are so awesome.

It wasn’t long before Mark Hamilton, Woodpigeon, took to the stage. I had seen him just the day before and so I knew he would be good, and he was. He had his friend from Scotland accompany him on ukulele for a song. He also told us some anecdotes about the library he works in in Calgary and a hill he tried to climb in Scotland (but failed). After Mark’s set I asked if he would draw a picture for me in my book, and he said he would. He took my pen and book and went away and then came and found me in my pew and gave it to me. He drew a bird holding a flag by it’s beak saying ‘Why hello’. I think I’m going to start seeing if I can get musicians to draw in the back of my book, seeing as the focus of most of my drawings is gigs and music.

By now the church had filled up and people were starting to use the upstairs seating. The audience was comprised entirely of adults. Even though I’m 18 I forget I am technically an ‘adult’, but still, I often seem to be the youngest at alot of shows I go to. I like to think it’s because I’m sophisticated beyond my years! (or something like that). I prefer non-teenager-y audiences anyway.

Bob went and sat on the floor in front of our pew, which turned out to be a wise move, since by the end of Andrew’s set I was dying to get off of the horrible uncomfortable wooden pew. So anyway, Andrew Bird took to the stage. He played for about 10 minutes before he said hi. He kicked off his shoes to reveal his patterned socks. He played Water Jet Cilice and Plasticities and a whole bunch of new songs. The new songs sound great, the one that really caught my ear was Effigy, so I am excited to hear how that turns out on the new record. Andrew is very animated while playing. He does a lot of head shaking, in a nervous tick motion of the head to the left sort of way. The looping thing he does is very impressive, lots of musicians do it these days, but Andrew really utilises the pedals seemlessly. I’ve never tried a loop pedal, but layering the violin plucking, singing and whistling is probably quite hard, but Andrew made it look easy. The sound was beautiful and the setting was lovely. Some of Andrew’s songs are quite classical at times, and we were all sat watching attentively from our pews; it was a very civilised affair. Andrew played Scythian Empire before returning for an encore. Insted of hiding away backstage like alot of artists do after their set, Andrew kindly came out onto the stage and signed things for fans. He signed in the back of my book for me underneath Mark’s drawing.

After the show I was starving, I hadn’t eaten anything since 12 and I had used up all my energy walking so quickly to the church. I said bye to Bob (who also has photos from the evening on his Flickr), found food, then went back to halls. Because there was a 10pm curfew it meant I got back at a very reasonable time.

Overall the day was a huge success in the area that matters to me (music) and a huge failure in the area that matters to most people (academics/grades). I think that Andrew’s January release Noble Beast is definately one to listen out for, I’m sure it’ll make lots of year-end lists in 2009.

Andrew Bird’s website is here, watch out for more from him in next year!

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4 Responses to Review: Andrew Bird @ St Giles Church

  1. Adam November 22, 2008 at 12:16 am #

    Your proposed project of getting artists to draw pictures for you reminded me a bit of this rather awesome blog:

    Glad the show was good, me and John were gutted to have missed it. Sure he’ll be back next year though!

  2. Chalky November 22, 2008 at 11:29 am #

    Sounds like a great gig (apart from the seating ;-) )

    Sorry the exam was so miserable, hope that gets better for you

  3. anikainlondon November 22, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    Thanks Chalky : )

    And thanks for that link Adam, that blog is great!


  1. Andrew Bird’s Noble Beast « Anika In London - December 14, 2008

    [...] Wow. Wow. Wow. Effigy is brilliant. I did notice it was good when I heard it live. [...]

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