Green Mill Jazz Club // Chicago, IL // April 3, 2019
It’s hard to take photos when you’re crying.
The night after the Chicago mayoral election, on a windy but mild evening, I walked into one of the most treasured music clubs in the city. The Green Mill has been a staple of the Uptown neighborhood for over 100 years; Al Capone himself used to hide out and drink salacious liquor during Prohibition. The stage at the back of the long, narrow bar is modest but certainly can accommodate a multi-piece jazz band. A green neon sign adorns the back of the wall that says “Green Mill”; when the band is ready to come on, the sign turns off and lets everyone know that the show’s about to begin. This evening, Chicago native and singer-songwriter Andrew Bird took to the stage to play his new album, My Finest Work Yet. It was one of the finest shows I’ve ever been to.
I’ll be honest: I did not know a lot of Andrew Bird’s music before seeing him at the Green Mill. I huddled up to the front of the stage with about 200 of his biggest fans, some who drove over 100 miles to see him at such a cool venue. Bird started the night with a cover of Chet Baker’s “I Fall in Love Too Easily”, a song that fit the tone of the evening and was a perfect match for Bird’s vocals. After that, he and his band played the opening track of his new album, “Sisyphus”. The song starts out with Bird’s signature whistling, something he’s used in nearly every one of his albums, regardless of genre. My Finest Work Yet has Bird returning to his early jazz roots, a perfect fit for the Green Mill. The next track, “Bloodless”, is one of my favorites on the album. The combination of piano and violin is nearly perfect, and Bird’s heartfelt vocals take center stage.
As the night went on, I found myself feeling comfortable enough to move around the venue to snap more photos. I couldn’t help but feel emotional as I watched such a small core of fans experience Bird’s music in one of the coolest places in Chicago. During the end of “Cracking Codes”, I stopped photographing and stood at the back of the room and just listened. Bird’s lyrics about politics and climate change struck a chord with me, but I was more moved by the energy of his fans witnessing a completely unique and once-in-a-lifetime performance. I put my camera away, which is something I rarely do at shows, and I took in everything.
Andrew Bird is coming back to Chicago this summer to play the iconic Chicago Theatre, and maybe I’ll get to be a part of that show too. But, nothing will ever compare to that intimate show at the old jazz lounge in Uptown.
Andrew Bird is currently on tour throughout the U.S. Tickets and more info can be found HERE.