This is Billie Bird‘s third experimental sound session at Lausanne’s cosy Le Bourg theatre. A chance to play out new arrangements and songs that could go on to be used on her forthcoming LP. This intimate, organic musical workshop perfectly suits Bille Bird’s style which is anchored in the folk idiom but is textured with such deep, naked emotion that a close exchange with her audience is an essential part of her live expression. No surprise, it’s a sold out soirée for Lausanne’s finest singer-songwriting talent, her loyal fanbase is out in hoards because once bitten, twice smitten and eager for more.
Immediately you are drawn, tripes and all
Setting the tone is her haunting acoustic version of Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’, (the only cover in her otherwise original repertoire), one that she has made her own by marrying the melancholic dark edges with her sensitive vibrato voice to great emotional and melodic effect. In fact, therein lies Bird’s vocal skill: teasing fragmented, disjointed lines and rhythms with such malleability that everything comes together seamlessly. Immediately you are drawn, tripes and all, into a journey of emotional exorcism helped along the way by the stunning video backdrop of misty landscapes, raging seas and moody skies totally suiting the timbre of her music.
There’s such charming, heartfelt purity in her delivery
Song-by-song a band member joins the stage, so that when it’s time for the bluesy, foot-stomping ‘April’, all hands are on deck for clapping and voices for singing in unison – a change in tone thanks to lightness of Billie’s banjo and the audience’s joyful participation. Another of her great abilities is to blurr the light with the shade: – yes the majority of Billie Bird’s song-writing material is tortured and rueful in colour, but oh, there’s such charming, heartfelt purity in her delivery that one never feels the need to call the Samaritans. Toes are always tapping and fingers eager to snap, even during the darkest lament of love-turned-sour (‘What are we’) or impossible desire (‘Beast’). Hanging emotion on a driving, intricate beat is Billie’s speciality; her original rhythmic patterns are as compelling as her meaningful lyrical content.
She gives difficult emotions a home to go to
It’s a treat to hear her sing in French, (‘Il n’y a rien qui te remplace’), and I would certainly have liked more in her original tongue which to my anglophone ears is made for poetic, romantic suffering. There’s an unexpected afrobeat moment where the entire band fusion together into one deep, hypnotic groove – very refreshing. And then the Tom Jones incident: knickers thrown at her on stage! When I mentioned a loyal fanbase I wasn’t exaggerating. Billie Bird is a blossoming national treasure and audiences are enchanted by her dark, emotive style wherever she performs. It’s as if she gives difficult emotions a home to go to. Her raw, understated delivery has a knack of drawing you in and not letting you go. We were all left wanting more, wishing that the magic of this intimate gig could go on and that her dusky light could shine on us all night.
Billie Bird (vocals, guitars, banjo, piano)
Marcin De Morsier (bass, synths, vocals)
Fabio Pinto (guitars, piano, perc, vocals)
Jérémie Duciel (drums)
Giuseppe Greco (live video visuals)
Forthcoming live gigs:
22nd March : Ebullition, Bulle w/ Mister & Mississipi
25th April : Bogen F, Zürich w/ Scott Matthew
19th June : Cully Classique (off festival )