Latitude 2009

Andrew Bird

John Mulvey

A lively afternoon at Latitude today, where the conditions are fluctuating between blazing sunshine and torrential rain. It's oddly suitable for Andrew Bird, whose fascination with meteorology led him to call one of his old albums "Weather Systems".

I've long been a fan of Bird; a little bemused, in fact, that his peculiar and charming school of baroque pop hasn't been more acclaimed. You could tentatively place him between Rufus Wainwright at his least camp and Jeff Buckley at his most playful, but really Bird is much too idiosyncratic to be easily pigeonholed.

Not least because he tries to play as many instruments as possible in each song. With just a rhythm section to back him (though the drummer does lean over and have a go on the keyboard from time to time), the responisbility is on Bird to recreate his ornate chamber pop by himself. He does this by sampling himself on violin, guitar, xylophone or whistling, then looping the results until it becomes a thick, intricate backdrop.

The effect is intriguing rather than showy, since Bird's songs are strong enough to handle such gimmickry. "A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left", from his "Mysterious Production Of Eggs" album is particularly striking. But really, like so much else at this fine festival, it's all good.


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