Never underestimate the power of music.
These past few years, I’d almost forgotten that.
Forgotten that some music has the power to possess you.
Music that turns your skin to goose flesh. Music that makes the hair on your arms stand on end. Music that makes your throat taut and tense. Music that leaves you catching your breath, that sends a rush of blood to every fibre in your body.
It penetrates you, touches a little hidden spot somewhere in your brain, that sparks and resonates through your whole being.
Mystical music, spiritual music, heady, crazy, mesmerising, sweet, sweet music.
Andrew Bird makes this sort of music. His is a sound that possesses you, that fills you, that sends you into embarassing babbling raptures such as this.
But never mind. Better this, this feeling of shock, this trembling awe, than no feeling at all.
When Bird took the stage in the Paradiso last Friday night, I must admit that I wasn’t prepared for it, wasn’t aware that this voice existed.
It struck me dumb.
The sounds had been slowly building up before he took the stage. Layer upon layer of guitar, violin and drum interspersed with a wavering, distant, melancholic whistling.
A lonely, langorous sound. The whistle of someone lost in a desert at night, stuck down some deep gorge with just the night sky above them and this strange, dark, echoing space enclosing them. A space they fill with a whistle.
A heady mix that stilled the audience with an anticipation you could feel.
It rose and rose and then this voice, pure, tremorous and clear, filtered through the sound and sent that electrical buzz to my brain.
And I cried.
I honestly and truly couldn’t contain it, all that music. I needed that release before I could begin to listen, before I could allow it to seep into me and settle in under my skin.
That delicious moment, when the music slips inside you and stays there, a little piece of beauty and wonder that you can keep and call up whenever the mood takes you. That sound in your head that stays forever.
And there’s no doubting it. Andrew Bird is in my head, under my skin, reverberating and making me tremble.
It’s a madness, I know, but it’s a beautiful sort of possession, a healthy kind of insanity, a joyousness that reminds me how good it is to sometimes simply be…