Birdy at Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, 29/10/16

Across the stony walls of Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange mystic lights bounce to the warping sound of chimes and from a dangling forest of white cloth, Birdy bashfully emerges just like a nymph.

Infused with oriental licks Birdy opens the show with ‘Growing Pains’, an energetic number that infuses well with her classical style.

 

One, which usually would struggle to raise a mainstream eyebrow, but my god this master of the dainty touch is relevant and in all honesty, I did not expect it, but my twee expectations are squashed early with ‘Shadows’ another track from new album Beautiful Lies.

In this song, her voice loops the scales like silk shoelaces and the room floods with buoyant sighs that would uplift even the heaviest souls.

Her third album Beautiful Lies proves that her song writing far outstrips the ordinary as she creates an inventive sound that places Birdy in the realm of Lana Del Ray.

Nonetheless, in the set Birdy includes the heady covers like ‘Skinny, Love’, which put her on the map at just fourteen.

She also pounds the grand piano to revive the ‘Naked and Naked’ song, which strikes a nostalgic freewheeling chord for the Skins generation in the crowd.

But Birdy’s songs are definitively romantic and some punters have clearly played the “Birdy points card”, as they haphazardly slip their hand into their spouse’s back pocket and who could blame them.

At times, the lyrics are cliché but Birdy manages to clearly present a modern take because of a fresh and empowering arrangement.

This is no less the case in ‘Wild Horses’ a stand out hit, which evokes cheers from the audience now inebriated by the imagery of her empathetic anecdotes.

Throughout the set Birdy intently glimpses at members of her band watching their timing and inadvertently supervising the detailed shipment of the show.

Reviving the cupid struck audience Birdy steps up to the microphone escorted by 90s keys, which can only signal the anthem ‘Keeping Your Head Up.’

This feverishly uplifting song feels mature, and that’s not because it suggests that Birdy has experienced a euphoric night or two out but, because it talks tenderly of her priority in supporting those she holds dear, whenever they take a bad trip.

Another highlight of the show is the stringed segue from the ballad ‘Silhouette’ into Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’, which seems a timely foreshadowing of Birdy’s future promise.

However trying to cage the Birdy is futile, she certainly parades numerous influences, but they are so changeable that they are hard to pin down.

Her vocal riffs can sound like Rhye one minute and Solange the next, but any samplings, remarkably, remain consistent because of the songs piano spine.

This is crucial because her new catalogue is heaped with sophisticated ventures from the chill electronica feel in ‘In My Head’ to the oriental synth in ‘Hear You Calling’ and then back, to the violin accompanied soulful ballads like ‘Words’.

The only thing we miss out on is some conversation between the songs, which in a way, adds to the mystique.

At the peak of the gig deep drums sound and a tribal resurrection floods the old auction house for ‘Lifted’; the inspiriting groove on this number even has the audience stomping as though attempting a Raindance- clearly a first in Scotland. All in all, there is something individually staggered about Birdy in her melodic delivery and movement, it’s as though she is flitting between another world and ours and so, what you get is a ethereal chamber of unchartered waters.

Willing to share these waters Birdy brings up support act Dan Owens to sing the popular Rhodes duet ‘Let It All Go’.

Still shaken from his eerily thought-provoking song ‘Made To Love You’, Owens’ husky voice sends shivers through the audience as he intensely rives his chest, whilst singing in an all-consuming manner.

It feels like no time has past at all in the orb Birdy has created as she ultimately strikes the piano with energy.

Still, I can’t believe she is doing it, there has to be a talisman of timeless singers, hidden under her mane of hair., but it’s an odd relief to have your perception broken because it deflates your ego, just long enough, to experience music without external framing.

The impact is shifting, especially in a digital age, that’s in the habit of making you think you’ve already experienced something without even stepping outside, but Birdy proves it’s the act of performing that hasn’t changed in time – YouTube doesn’t do her justice and neither does the radio, you need to see Birdy live.

Words: Mhairi MacDonald

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