Archive for the ‘Piano Ballad’ Category

Birdy and Band take the well deservd applause at the end of the Shepherd's Bush Empire shoe in London, September 11th 2012

Birdy and Band take the well deservd applause at the end of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire shoe in London, September 11th 2012

Jasmine van den Bogaerde aka Birdy is already carving a quite a name for herself as a musician at the sophisticated end of pop. At the tender age of just 16, when most of her peers could be contemplating the first steps of their future career options, it is quite clear that Birdy’s route already has well laid foundations. Winner of the UK Open Mic competition in 2008, Birdy’s young career continues to scale new heights with her current single “People help the People” recently having reached the Europe Top 20 singles charts and residing in the Top 5 in Germany and Switzerland; and the previous single “Skinny Love” sitting pretty at No.6 in France.
Although, her eponymous debut album of mainly covers (the exception being “Without A Word”) has hit the top spot in a number of countries including Australia, the classically trained pianist has not had quite the same level of success in the UK, despite a Top 20 place.

This, however, should not detract from the quality of her live performances which from all evidence from September’s show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire will see her grow in stature in the future. Supported by a multi-instrumental band, including a drummer, a cellist, acoustic guitar player and guitar/bass player (these latter two also doubled up on keyboards), Birdy walked on purposefully for the few steps to her baby grand piano, sat down with arms outstretched at the keyboard in the style of a classical music concert and waited for the auditorium to quiet a little before beginning.

Birdy at play on the Baby Grand, Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, September 11th 2012

Birdy at play on the Baby Grand, Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, September 11th 2012

She may have sat rigid at the piano appearing at times quiet and slightly apprehensive but the remarkable thing was that each track was delivered with crystal clarity as if it had come straight off the album. “Shelter” was tinged with an air of emotional regret and was completely absorbing. “Without a word” with its lyrics about a couple on the verge of splitting up and powerful delivery, indicted her future strength as a ballad writer and the piano hook on “The District Sleeps Alone” literally had me hooked.
It was shame that there was practically no interaction with the audience apart the odd hushed “Thank you” but then given the quality of the music, was it really necessary? The memorable moments were the songs and their arrangements , like the chilled out slightly euphoric feel of “Young Blood” (yes the one from the CanonTV commercial) and the heart string tugging “People Help the People” with the melancholic mellow cello bridge which I regard as a new modern classic.

By the time the encore came with “Skinny Love”, most of the 2000 hearts at Shepherd’s Bush Empire had melted.
Birdy still has some way to go to improve on stagecraft and audience interaction. To be frank, positioning the piano way out on stage right instead of centre was distracting as was, at times, the gyrations of band members who probably thought they had to fill the void of movement. Nonetheless, the musical performance was flawless with Birdy’s voice and the musical arrangements emotionally captivating. Birdy and her band have taken these indie covers and put innocence and soul into them that produces a mesmerising effect when performed live. I can only see great things ahead for this young talent.