Jade Bird @ Fairmount Theatre – 7th November 2019

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Jade Bird in Montreal

Before I knew anything about her, I had a really good feeling about Jade Bird.  It wasn’t simply her raspy voice full of conviction but her delicious anger serving up lyrics like.

“She’s got you on your knees like a little boy
Everybody sees that you’re just a little toy
She’s got a boxful that her daddy likely bought
She asks you if you love her and you nod and say
Uh huh”

We all have an ex that screwed us over,  but how many of us get the chance to rub their nose in their shitty karma, in a song?  As Jade says;

“Betrayal makes for good songwriting.”

Then I saw her music video for “I Get No Joy” and became a little obsessed.  Who is this little badass in her silver boots and red jumpsuit driving the shit out of an 80s Pontiac Firebird?

Hailing from the UK, Miss Bird took piano lessons in primary school and then took up the guitar because it felt more “free.”  She began writing songs at 12 and gigging at 14, so by the time she moved to London at 16, she was ready. Playing in blues bars, she strengthened her voice by practising very hard to get that gritty sound.  She had to compete with older men who were much larger and louder and she wanted to make sure that she would be heard.

 ”I’m not a calm human being and I have a lot of anger as I think a lot of young women do.  When you figure out how you’re treated on the norm in certain places. So that fuels that aggression, which I love – music with pure aggression. I’m inspired by the riot grrrl movement.’   (Contactmusic.net) 

Her musical tastes range from Patty Smith, Dolly Parton and Alanis Morissette to Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Crosby Stills Nash and Young.  With such a rich depth of influences, it’s no wonder that her songs appeal to such a wide variety of people.

Her songwriting and her voice transcend the rock/Indy/folk/country genre. 

“The people I admire the most have been shapeshifters in music. Crossing boundaries is something I want to do in my career.”

(Radio interview for The bridge 90.9 Kansas City Missouri)

She released her first EP “Something American” at 19 and her self-titled album “Jade Bird” was released two years later.  In a very short period of time, she has managed to put out some great music and tour the US and Canada.  

Popping on the stage at Le Fairmount, in her signature red jumpsuit and holding her guitar, Miss Bird made her first appearance in Montreal and it was brilliant.

(I haven’t been to the Fairmount in a very long time and was quite impressed with the staff and service.  A special thanks to Michael who was in charge of security and was kind enough to get me a copy of a setlist).

She wasted no time getting to the good stuff and sang “Uh Huh” for her second song.  The crowd instantly perked up as Jade pushed hard to deliver the frustration of the lyrics.  She pushed so hard in fact, that she broke her guitar string.  

She chatted in between songs, apologizing for the sad tunes and mocking herself for the “existential crisis” that she had walking around alone in New York.  This was the back story for “Does Anybody Know”, which she performed alone with her acoustic guitar. She then surprised us with Radiohead’s “Black Star”, claiming that she wished she had written it.  She actually made it her own, bringing a sweet and feminine twist to the melancholic tune. 

Another great surprise was her cover of Blondie’s “Call Me” which got everyone dancing and singing along.  As did everyone’s favorite “I Get No Joy.”

The highlight of the evening was her performance of “Lottery.”  Not because she sang it beautifully, but because she invited a young fan to come up on stage and sing it with her. It was one of those unforgettable and unexpected moments in a show that really brings people together.  It happened so casually and organically that it perfectly demonstrated what makes Jade such a phenomenal artist.

“Being able to give young women strength and make them feel empowered is something I feel very passionate about.”  (Recording academy interview) 

I got to speak with Jade after the show and found out that Montreal was her last stop on her North American tour. She is returning to London to rest up and then her new album will hopefully be released in January.  Jade is a prolific musician and has written over 500 songs which are in notebooks back home.  

I told her I couldn’t wait because I was a really big fan which she probably noticed since I was wearing her T-shirt and smiling like a goof.

I wasn’t the only one fangirling. I spoke to a young girl in the crowd who told me that Jade Bird has inspired her to learn how to play guitar.  She told me how she was so impressed because Jade wrote her own songs and played her own guitar and had such personal and meaningful lyrics. And my faith was restored in the future of women in music.

Review & photos – Annette Aghazarian

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