It’s hard not to like British singer-songwriter Jade Bird (yes, that’s her real name). Her genuine, positive spirit is simply too difficult to ignore.
This is my second time seeing her perform this year, which included a set at one of her many South by Southwest showcases earlier in March. I generally resist seeing the same artist perform more than once a year due to the fear of listening to a rehashed set, especially if that artist hasn’t released any substantially new material since.
But Bird thankfully alleviated that fear during a Thursday night show at The Chapel, a converted mortuary in San Francisco, with cheerfulness and a striking confidence in herself to be herself.
After Christopher Porterfield of Field Report opened with a special solo acoustic set, Bird quickly endeared herself to the locals—many of whom were noticeably inebriated—with uplifting quasi-country/quasi-folk tunes and clumsily funny anecdotes.
I half-expected the audience to walk out when Bird referred to the “City by the Bay” as “San Fran” and was immediately met with loud noes.
“Well, what should I say instead?” Bird asked.
A collective “S.F.”
“Alright,” Bird asserted, “here’s a new one, S.F.”
The audience cheered as Bird began performing a new song, “Side Effects.”
With her debut full-length album supposedly coming out sometime soon, Bird spent much of the night teasing the crowd with new songs (unofficially, I’m referring to songs that are currently unavailable on Spotify). It’s felt like an eternity since Bird released her five-track EP Something American last summer, most of which she sprinkled throughout the set, such as “Cathedral” and crowd favorite “Good Woman.”
New songs like “Hold That Thought” and the tender “Anniversary” were quite a treat—an incentive to attend her live shows—as were the covers. Her cover of The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” is not a live exclusive anymore, as it was recently released as a Spotify single, but her piano solo of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” was topnotch poignant and the night’s highlight.
If it wasn’t for Jade Bird’s ill-advised attempted tickling of her bassist as the band walked offstage ahead of the customary encore, I would have thought her and her performance as perfect – but, perfect performers don’t tickle. I’m not even going to mention the aborted cover of Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Bird later admitted that it made for her “most awkward encore ever,” so I guess we can expect she can only improve from here on out.