radio city dreaming
  • WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 2009

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It's lonely flying solo. In my case, on this night, I'm criminally close to the edge of a stage that spreads its' wings like the deck of an aircraft carrier...the tapered, golden dome of Radio City Music Hall lofting above me. Kind of isolating actually, watching one of the world's great theaters slowly fill to capacity.

But my seat is plush; its big and rather comfy, and the carpet feels decadently thick and soft under my feet. I'm comfortable, and in a moment I'll be even more so as I, along with 6000 other people in the theater, will soon settle in to an evening of the divine, lead by an absolute wizard of a musician in Mr. Andrew Bird.

By now Mr. Bird, along with Martin Dosh (Drums), Mike Lewis (Bass/Clarinet/Sax), and Jeremy Ylyisaker (guitar) deserve such a noble setting. They are touring behind an album dubbed Noble Beast, after all. But its' Bird's world class whistling, fluttered oh so elegantly in an eminent potpourri of violin, voice, and guitar that make he and his band worthy of this room, and together the four will concoct nothing short of magic on this evening.

As the mighty curtain climbs to the ceiling, Mr. Bird reveals himself, like me, alone on Radio City's colossal stage, lit warm and gold by a single, bursting bulb placed near his vicinity. This would be met by a comical mix of applause and panic, as the unsettled scurried back to their seats, their cheeky, blue cocktail lights flying down the aisles like drones returning to the hive.

But there stood Mr. Bird, swirling and swaying, rubbing rich chords out of his violin, all while a double horned gramophone spun on its' axis, stroking wonder and imagination with every turn. Oh that gramophone...its' pace, its' steady round about path, the looming shadows it threw on the back wall; it wouldn't spring to life often as the night unwound, but when provoked, felt like a call to all those witnessing its' rotation to fathom strange, billowy dreams.

Which is fitting considering that's just the kind of thing Mr. Bird's music sparks in its' listeners. Where else, after all, can a slender, prim and proper kind of fellow - donned in a baby blue jacket and pail, red shirt this evenig - lead a mass of devotees through the kind of wide eyed fantasies he stirs to mind in "Opposite Day" ("Today was supposed to be the day molecules decide to change their form/Laws of physics lose their sway/And youthful indiscretion now is suddenly the norm with the good kids sprouting horns")? Where else do lonely, sci-fi fans, the kind who usually scare others from the bar with their creepy brand of awkward socializing - finally have their day ("Effigy")? Where else can a percolating punch of pizzicato, tom toms, glissandos, handclaps, and - of course - that heaven sent whistle all intertwine in some magnificent dance? And of course...of course! that piece would be called "Fits and the Dizzy Spills".

It's all too perfect, really; so much so, I'm not sure Bird really fathoms how this latest chapter in his career occurred. Regardless, it's real...most likely taking root in his subconscious; the most personal, private, and lonely trenches of the soul, slowly unfurling over time. In Mr. Bird's case, several years, albums, and concerts before manifesting. But way back when, Bird was probably once alone with his instruments, thinking, "what if"? Now here he is.

So I'm fine by myself...in fact, I'm grateful. For loneliness is a call to dream. And I know I, along with everyone else in the room for that matter, could probably afford to do a bit more of that kind of thing. - David Pitz

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