The Bowery Presents
The Lumineers

2nd show added by overwhelming demand!!

The Lumineers

Andrew Bird

Fri, February 3, 2017

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

Madison Square Garden

New York, NY

$64.50, $49.50, $34.50

This event is all ages

The Lumineers
The Lumineers
It took four years for The Lumineers to follow up their platinum-plus, multi-Grammy-nominated, self-titled debut -- which spent 46 weeks on the Billboard 200 and peaked at #2 -- but 'Cleopatra' is well worth the wait. After exploding onto the scene with their monster single, "Ho Hey" (which spent a staggering 62 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #3) and its follow-up, "Stubborn Love" (recently featured on President Barack Obama's Spotify playlist), The Lumineers spent a solid three years touring six of the seven continents. During that time, The Lumineers -- whose original members Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites founded the band in Ramsey, New Jersey back in 2002 -- earned a pair of Grammy nominations (Best New Artist, Best Americana Album), contributed two songs to 'The Hunger Games' franchise (including the hit Jennifer Lawrence/James Newton Howard collaboration, "The Hanging Tree") and sold an impressive 1.7 million albums in the U.S., and 3 million worldwide.

'Cleopatra' proves Schultz and Fraites -- along with cellist/vocalist Neyla Pekarek -- are neither taking their good fortune for granted, nor sitting back on their laurels. With the help of producer Simone Felice (The Felice Brothers, The Avett Brothers), the man Wesley calls "our shaman," the band ensconced themselves in Clubhouse, a recording studio high atop a hill in rural Rhinebeck, N.Y., not far from Woodstock.

The Lumineers then set about trying to make musical sense of their three-year-plus roller coaster ride. Their skill at setting a visual story to music comes through amidst the delicate, deceptively simple acoustic soundscapes. This time, though, bassist Byron Isaac provides a firm, low-end on the apocalyptic opener "Sleep on the Floor," a ghostly tune about getting out of town before the "subways flood [and] the bridges break." It's a densely packed, cinematic song that echoes Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" and John Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' -- which were models for the record alongside Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Jack Nicholson in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'

"We took the same approach this time as we did with the first album, recording demos in a small house we rented in the original Denver neighborhood where we first moved," explains Wesley, contributing the lyrical ideas while collaborating on the music with Jer, who tackled a variety of instruments, including guitar, the very prominent piano and trademark tribal drums.

"Wes handles all the lyrics", says Jeremiah, "and Wes and I come up with all the rest together -- music, melody, and structure. There are no rules or titles in our writing process, just merely chipping away slowly until we both agree we have something fantastic."

"The record is our greatest hits reflecting what's happened to us over the last three years," added Wesley. "We tried to come up with the best possible version of every song, so we recorded a lot of different iterations, changing the tempos, dressing 'em up, stripping 'em down. It took a lot of work to make them sound so easy. We're very passionate about the process. It was a very intense and beautiful experience. There was a lot of battling, a lot of tears, but some amazing stuff came out, and at the end, we were much better off. It transformed our relationship."

'Cleopatra' is named after the title track, inspired by a woman from the Republic of Georgia, an acquaintance of Wesley's wife's best friend whom he met while visiting there. The hard-bitten woman drove a taxi with a can of beer between her legs and a cigarette dangling from her mouth, having survived a hard-scrabble life, pining for the man who got away after her father died. "There was this level of defiance about her," nodded Wesley. "She was accepting her fate, but still felt misunderstood."

'Cleopatra' also deals with what Wesley terms "the elephant in the room," the band's success and the way it can sometimes put a target on your back. The syncopated piano rolls in "Ophelia" ("I got a little paycheck/You got big plans/You gotta move/I don't feel nothin' at all"), the organic sound of fingers squeaking on guitar strings in "Angela" ("The strangers in this town/They raise you up just to cut you down") and the Faustian bargain described in "My Eyes" ("Oh, the devil's inside/You open the door/You gave him a ride/Too young to know/Too old to admit/But you couldn't see how it ends") consider the perils of getting what you wish for, with everyone knowing your name, and your songs.

Schultz demonstrates his keen literary eye and ear for narrative description in "The Gun Song," in which he recalls rummaging through his mild-mannered, progressive, intellectual, psychologist father's sock drawer after his death and finding a "Smith & Wesson pistol," making him wonder what other mysteries his dad kept from him. "Long Way from Home," its 5/4 signature reminiscent of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice (It's Alright)" or "Shelter from the Storm," tells of hope and desperation, a double-edged sword which can both sustain or ultimately, "fuck you up," Wesley noted ruefully. The title phrase repeats three different times at the end of the individual verses, each carrying a different meaning. Sings Schultz: "Held on to hope/Like a noose/Like a rope/God and medicine take no mercy on him..." The characters in 'Cleopatra' are hanging on for dear life, trying to find reasons to believe, or creating some on their own just to survive with some sort of grace.

With four years between albums, The Lumineers are excited to get back out on the road and, as Wesley puts it, "connect with the new record and have people connect with it."

The band had total artistic freedom in writing and recording the album, so Wesley and Jer pushed the envelope on experimental tracks like the stream-of-consciousness, purposely lo-fi "Sick in the Head," the yearning, piano chord build-up of "In the Light," or the closing orchestral instrumental, the aptly titled coda, "Patience."

There is something timeless about The Lumineers that links their songs to 18th century pastorals, 19th century work songs, 20th century folk narratives and 21st century post-modern cinematic soundscapes. It sounds familiar, but take the time to dig below the surface. Listen carefully and layers of meaning reveal themselves, just like that gun Wesley discovered in his dad's drawer, intimating all sorts of intrigue and sharp observations. Success hasn't spoiled The Lumineers; rather, it's inspired them to follow their muses even further.

"We continue to make the kind of records we want to," says Wesley. "We believe in this music. It's a true labor of love. We just want to keep reaching more people with our songs."

Given the evidence on The Lumineers' eagerly anticipated sophomore album 'Cleopatra,' that shouldn't be a problem.
Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird
With his new album, Are You Serious, Andrew Bird has widened the breadth of his art by directly refecting his own human experience. With key contributions from Fiona Apple and Blake Mills, Are You Serious attains a level of expression that's a personal, evolutionary leap. "Here I am with my most unguarded, direct, relatable album to date," Bird says, "Go easy on me."

"I set out to make a record that's diferent than any I've made before,” he explains. "I wanted to make an album musically crafed like a Wrecking Crew session, where you have to be good. There's less wordplay and more intention to process some brutal times that I went through. What happens when real ordeals befall someone who has always been happy writing from their imagination and the distance of the third person? Who has time for poetics while grappling with birth and death? What's the role of sincerity for a songwriter who doesn't really go in for the confessional thing? This is what I struggled with for this record. I suppose the title could be poking fun at my own foray into the confessional realm."

Are You Serious is the second record Bird has made with producer Tony Berg, following 2005’s breakthroughThe Mysterious Production of Eggs. "Tony and I spent months preparing for Sound City," says Bird, referring to the legendary Los Angeles studio where Nirvana recorded Nevermind and Neil Young made Afer The Gold Rush. "We went through every part of every song, every note, scrutinizing the voicing of the chords, fnding melodically interesting ways to move from one chord to the next. I decided to work with a producer because I wanted the recording process to be more rigorous. Novelists have editors and
playwrights workshop their drama. Tony really played that role for me on this album.”

An up-tempo blitz addressing personal chemistry as a rearrangement of molecules, “Roma Fade” may be the album's centerpiece. Its sense of longing – "from the tips of your fingers, every strand of hair ...you may not know me but you feel my stare" – is based in part on how Bird met his wife, or rather, the times he saw her before they met. “It always seemed to be at a party, from fifteen or twenty feet away,” he explains. “‘Roma Fade’ and ‘Truth Lies Low’ present both sides of the phenomenon of observing and being observed. Desire draws a fne line between what's romantic and what's creepy."

The album’s surprise revelation is "Lef Handed Kisses," a duet with the singular Fiona Apple. With Bird playing the skeptic and Apple the romantic, the stop-start ballad portrays two lovers who are philosophically opposed but inevitably drawn together. It feels like it could be a lost Johnny Cash/June Carter classic.

"The song began as an internal dialogue," Bird says. "At first it was just my voice. Then this other voice came creeping in and I thought 'this should be a duet if I can fnd the right person.' I needed to find someone really indicting. And Fiona does the pissed of thing really well! She was totally committed. The session was a long whiskey-fueled night. We were unhinged, for sure. All worth it, of course... I can't write simple love songs. People are complex. My inclination was to write a song about why I can't write a simple love song."

"My favorite songs I write are the ones that change and adapt according to my mood," says Bird. Albumopener "Capsized" is a prime example, having been in his live repertoire for close to a decade under various titles and guises. In the album's recorded incarnation, "Capsized" is a propulsive gem evoking both the chamber-soul of Bill Withers and the backbeat of The Meters. Bird's vocals are driven onward by drummer Ted Poor and bassist Alan Hampton. The musically expansive nature of Are You Serious is due in part to ace ensemble players like Poor and Hampton, and the guitar playing of Blake Mills. "Blake raises the bar and gets where I'm coming from like few musicians I've met. He's as restless as I am and gets the odd accents and microtonal stuf that's outside western music.”

The album closer "Valleys of the Young" encapsulates the album’s themes. This is what Andrew means of when he uses the word “brutal.” “For years now, the code I've been trying to crack is how to translate plainspoken real life into song and have it meet my melodic, syntactic standards. There are no riddles here. No encryption. I've lef the valley of the young, the small-seeming dramas, the brunch and misery, for a far more perilous place where your heart breaks from cradle to grave. The musical setting for this had to ensure that both young and old listeners can relate. Tony kept making us look at photos of the dust bowl storms raging across the prairie, the ones that made Woody Guthrie sing ‘So long it’s been good to know ya.’”

Jettisoning established methods begets reinvention. This is part of the great success of Are You Serious. See how it plays out in person on Bird's 17-date Spring 2016 tour, kicking of March 30 at The Ryman in Nashville. "I never walk onstage knowing what I'm doing," says the artist. "It's a shrug-of-the-shoulders approach and people like it, it seems human to them. I began playing with the idea of reinvention, so that onstage a wild untamed thing can happen. I wanted to make a record that lets me subvert or expand my onstage personality. "A personality now ready to answer the question, Are You Serious.
Venue Information:
Madison Square Garden
4 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY, 10001
http://www.thegarden.com/