Posted By: Paul Quinn
The Chicagoland native, Andrew Bird, makes his return to the city with two nights at the legendary Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in celebration of his latest release: My Finest Work Yet. These set of performances mark his first in Chicago since his run of shows at the Fourth Presbyterian Church and the Hideout in December of 2017. Lucky fans were given the opportunity to purchase tickets though a lottery system to these rare and intimate performances. With a stroke of luck, we were given a chance to experience night two of Bird’s performances at the Green Mill.
I haven’t been to the Green Mill in a few months, so I knew right away I was going to enjoy the venue, the wonderful bar staff, and, hopefully, a little jazz to be played. The night did not disappoint.
In the crowded bar, we overhead many excited fans asking “Oh, what is he going to play? Are there going to be special guests? Rare songs?”. I really wanted to be “that guy” to say that they were going to hear the new album in full, and maybe some classic Andrew Bird songs, but nothing much more special than that, especially since there was no opener scheduled to play. I am happy I wasn’t “that guy”, because I was wrong for the most part: it was a very special and unique show.
For those who haven’t been to the Green Mill, it is a tiny jazz club in the Uptown neighborhood that opened in the early 1900s. There’s a bar that wraps around most of the club, seating along the walls, and a small stage all the way in the back with a little dance floor right in front of it. I made the mistake of showing up shortly after doors, as the Mill was already packed, and you had to inch by everyone just to get past people waiting for the bar. Imagine Andrew Bird and his band inching through the crowd to get to the stage, because that’s what happened.
Upon taking the stage to a very happy and excited crowd, Bird and his band started off the night by going track by track though the new record. Between tracks, Bird was referring how special this show was to him, especially since he was saying he used to live by all the retired priests and nuns in the Sovereign on Granville (paying $400/month for a studio apartment), to living off of Montrose and Clark with a nice view of a cemetery.
At the point where the “A-Side” of the record ends, Andrew took a second to give a shout out to his band, and then dove into a couple of Andrew Bird classics. At this point of the concert, the crowd was the most engaged: singing along to the tracks, dancing, and the loudest applauses came afterwards. Andrew went back into the record to finish off “Side-B”, but instead of playing it straight through like he did with “Side-A”, he let his guitarist, Madison Cunningham, play one of the feature songs from her upcoming album set to release this summer.
Prior to closing the set, Andrew wanted to pay tribute to the venue by closing the night with a few jazz numbers, leaving the audience with a night they won’t soon forget.
If you missed your chance to see these shows, don’t worry! Andrew Bird just announced a show at The Chicago Theater on July 16 with special guest Madison Cunningham. More information on that can be found here.
My Finest Work Yet is out now everywhere on Loma Vista Recordings.