28th February | Louisiana
Photos: Paul Lippiatt
Proof that even on the most frozen of nights a little bit of warmth and magic can be found; upstairs at The Louisiana, Jade Bird began her first ever headline tour, supported by Jack Vallier. Vallier, who was endearingly a little nervous, hit the high notes and his track ‘Concrete’ was particularly lovely. Vallier warmed up a room of frozen strangers, still wrapped in coats and hats and gloves, bigging up Jade at the close of his set. He (only half-jokingly) declared his love for her and moved in to mingle with the crowd.
There was little room to spare as Jade snuck through the audience, packed in like sardines, and onto the stage, guitar in hand. “Oh wow,” she said, “I’m normally just the support act; I hope can fill more than thirty minutes,” and then burst into what is one of the best laughs I have ever heard, as strong and distinctive as her singing voice. She started playing ‘Something American’, the title track of her 2017 EP, with linguistically manipulated lyrics that tell a story of a juvenile love. She then asked the audience if they liked country and blues, and played ‘Good Woman’.
Country threads through Bird’s music, though it delves into folk and pop tones too. ‘Good Woman’ is a distinctively amazing country song, from the twang of the guitar, to the Dolly Parton-esque subject matter of ‘my man and another woman’. It exemplifies every element that makes country music great, showcasing phenomenal vocals, epic storytelling and iconic country lyrics such as “she’s cheaper than a dollar store version of me”.
Next was ‘Anniversary’, a track she warned that she had just finished that day. A verse in and she had to stop to tune her guitar. “I’m never normally on stage long enough for this to be a problem,” she paused, then added in a flawless American twang, “But y’all are here to see me”. She yelped again in that infectious laugh, and told us she would instead play the song ‘Good At It’, her reason being that this song is a bit rude and her grandma couldn’t make it to the show.
Moving onto something she declared to be a bit depressing, she played ‘Furious’, another new track. It discussed the same heartbreak that inspired her upbeat curse-your-lover tracks; this was vulnerable, raw and heart-breaking. Bird’s strong and beautiful vocals are built up with many layers of emotion – love, excitement and sadness – each quality lurching forward and lending itself to the story she is telling.
Bird was supposedly finishing up with ‘Lottery’, followed by ‘Going Gone’… only she wasn’t gone; dropping her final and best quip of the night, “that wasn’t the last song, but I can’t really be bothered to walk backstage when I’m going to come back on anyway”, she closed up with a Shania Twain and Johnny Cash cover.
Jade Bird is quite phenomenal. I doubt there will ever be a chance to see her quite so up close and personal again. There are undoubtedly a lot of big and exciting things to come.