Andrew Bird plays Poughkeepsie to perfection
Andrew Bird plays Poughkeepsie to perfection

My love affair with Andrew Bird began only a few years ago, when I first heard “Gris-Gris” off of Thrills (Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire). It was jazzy and sexy and fun. Then, I heard “Fake Palindromes” from Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs while driving through an Autumn-covered mountain – well, let’s just say I knew the love would last a long, long time.

So, when I took my seat at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie on Monday, Oct. 17, it was hard to stay still. When he came on stage, the audience screamed, of course, but I just stared. The opera house’s exquisite details and huge stage outlined Bird’s tall, skinny frame. (For those of you who don’t know Bird [really, you should stop reading and go listen…now], he’s a one-man orchestra, who loops whistling, violin, guitar and other instruments into one collective sound. And his voice, his disgustingly incredible voice, don’t even get me started.)

Bardavon was perfect for Bird -— his very own Birdavon. His hauntingly powerful voice echoed off of the high ceilings, helping to guide the audience through the show’s fantastical journey. When he played, an indescribable magic poured from the stage where nothing else mattered. Nothing. And he’s quite the performer — Bird becomes this intimately beautiful lunatic on stage, singing with his hands (when he doesn’t have an instrument) and acting a bit neurotic with his head moving about. There wasn’t a dull moment in his set.

And his songs? I think the best part about the show was that nothing he played sounded like the studio versions. This made them even more interesting and added to the fun of just watching Bird perform. He blew me away with his renditions of “A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left,” “Tenuousness,” “Effigy” and “Tables and Chairs.” Plus, he played his version of “It’s Not Easy Being Green” from the Muppet movie soundtrack.

Were you waiting for the moment I cried? I think there were a few sniffles here and there, but I lost it with “Night Sky,” from his newest album, the Norman soundtrack. Come on,
lyrics like “Sound is a wave like a wave on the ocean/ Moon plays the wave like a violin, pushing and pulling/ from shore to shore, biggest melody you never heard before” are impeccable.

Halfway through the set, Dosh joined Bird on set. As Bird’s opener, the multi-instrumentalist, single-handedly filled the hour with rock-meets-hypnotic sounds. Dosh (formally Martin Dosh) is a SUNY New Paltz English graduate, go figure. He’s been playing with Bird for six years and they bounced off of each other flawlessly, even leaving room for an improv jam session.

When they finished, a standing ovation waited for Bird’s return. His encore consisted of a Handsome Family cover and, to finish the night off, a captivating and euphoric “Weather Systems.” It was just right – no, it was perfect. I want to go back. Again and again and again.

4 stars