Birdy at Vicar Street – Review and Photos
British pop musician Birdy played a sold-out Vicar St on Sunday 2nd March. This marked her first appearance in Ireland in a couple of years, and was part of a tour promoting last year’s album ‘Fire Within’, her second already at the age of 17.
However, as she strides assuredly onstage to a healthy cheer, it’s easy to forget just how young she is. The set begins with Birdy’s stripped-back, spotlit cover of The xx’s ‘Shelter’ to silence the crowd, before her backup band swing into action with the more lively efforts, ‘Young Blood’ and ‘Strange Birds’. She sits stage right by the piano backed by the pastoral ambience of a looping abstract film projected behind her, interrupted now and then by the irregular pulsing of three large floodlights, but unfortunately more of a blinding distraction than atmospheric improvement.
Support on the night came from Northampton singer-songwriter Billy Lockett, his genial personality permeating his performance, but his music fails to engross. He receives a reasonable reaction from the sold-out crowd, but the atmosphere for his quieter numbers is challenged by the usual pre-show chatter.
Perhaps it’s a virtue of the structure of her set, or perhaps it’s the threat of work in the morning, but for Birdy’s set the crowd on the floor rarely gets more active than a sway and a whisper until ‘Words as Weapons’ and ‘Light Me Up’ catalyse a bit of action. Until then, any energy that’s gleaned from the more upbeat tracks was immediately drained by another solo piano ballad, not all of which reach the heights of ‘People Help the People’ or ‘Skinny Love’, but often languish as dull, by-the-numbers sort of jobs. It’s a shame the set is rife with them, as these songs simply aren’t as strong as those with the full band.
But despite a rather unconvincing start and an inconsistent middle, the tail end of the night is a strong one, featuring a few excellent numbers in ‘Standing in the Way of the Light’ and ‘Comforting Sounds’, but it is her cover of The National’s ‘Terrible Love’ that winds up, by a distance, the best song of the night. The climactic outro jam and cello solo during the encore was also superb, and highlights both the strength of her backing band, and the relative strength of the full-band tracks, compared to the solo ones.
Selling out almost every venue on the tour for her second album at the age of 17 is no mean feat, not to mention having already sold a few million records on the back of it, so it’s been an impressive start to the career of a musician with such raw talent. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though she’s yet hit the artistic heights that her potential suggests she may, but has at least surpassed the standard of her first album of samey covers, and her live show demonstrates definite potential to be great. I’m not convinced just yet, but with this in mind, Birdy’s is an intriguing career to keep an eye on.
Review by Conor Cosgrave
Photos by Tudor Marian