Andrew Bird - Gezelligheid Winter 2013 performance, by Paige K. Parsons
Photos by: Paige K. Parsons

Each winter, Andrew Bird treats a few select cities to special “Gezelligheid” performances. This year, San Francisco was lucky enough to be on the list, with a performance on both Monday and Tuesday night at the majestic Congregation Sherith Israel on California Street.

Appropriating a Dutch term that loosely translates to “extra extra cozy,” the Gezelligheid shows concentrate mainly on instrumental violin pieces amplified only by the signature giant Specimen horns. This year’s shows included special guest Tift Merritt on guitar and vocals, as well as local Todd Sickafoose on stand up bass.

I don’t know that I would call Congregation Sherith Israel, but it was awe inspiring. Not only was the setting unique and beautiful, but both the performance and the sound quality were superb. One of the best parts of a performance like this is the freedom for Bird to skip over hits and instead play whatever might inspire or move him. He went way back in his catalog, and remarked at how some of the songs were so old, he felt like he was doing cover versions. Bird also spent a lot of time between songs talking about the gneiss of songs, and sharing memories from his youth. Standout tracks included, "Three White Horses,” “Waiting to Talk”, “Dear Old Greenland,” and “Weather Systems".

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