Monday, September 21, 2009


During Saturday night's Andrew Bird show, I realized how many "wait, did he just say that?" moments there are on Noble Beast. Did he just mention a onesie? Did he just say something about kittens with pleurisy? Yes, he did. Plus a new/old song that gave a particular sort of clarity to the consumption of sweetbreads. The taste of neurons firing, indeed.

Andrew was the official headliner of Madison's Forward Music Festival, playing at the Overture Center. My evening began at a different venue, as I chose to forego the opening Pale Young Gentlemen in favor of the seeing Pronto (and Filligar, as it turned out) at the Frequency. In the time between the announcement of the FMF09 lineup and the publication of the schedule, I knew there were two acts I was most interested in seeing. And of course, both wound up scheduled for Saturday night. Luckily, the Overture and Frequency are a few minutes' dash apart, but I was still bummed not to catch all of Pronto's set.

Pronto played very well, and should have had a bigger audience. I loved seeing what the full band added to the live performance of the All is Golden tunes. "Monster" had a different sound, less bouncy. The energetic ending to "Say it All Night" was a pleasant surprise. The band looked comfortable on the small stage, though it was a bit of a contrast to Mikael Jorgensen's usual gig. I hope Madison gets another chance to host Pronto, whether in this configuration or another. A full performance of The Cheetah (complete with video!) would be something to see.

As always, Andrew Bird came through with a solid and slightly otherworldly performance. Between banter about Wisconsin's bike trails and Land Striders from The Dark Crystal, the full-band songs stood out. We heard many songs from Noble Beast, a new song incorporating the sinkings of the Lusitania and Main, and a handful of older favorites. The closing number was definitely a favorite of mine - the Handsome Family's "Don't Be Scared." The first time I heard it (with Sally Timms supplying background vocals) I was so happy I nearly cried. This time my reaction wasn't quite so dramatic, but it was a powerful ending to the show. See you in Milwaukee next month, Andrew.

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