Bird at the Royal Academy

I was kindly invite by George Cochran of Dave Woolf Ltd to a showcase performance by vocalist/cellist Janie Price aka Bird last night in the Academicians’ Room in Keeper’s House at the Royal Academy of the Arts, Piccadilly. I had first discovered Bird thanks to being captivated by the superb ‘Bad connection’ in 2009, the standout track from her album that year, Girl and a cello. The Academicians’ Room is principally a private members’ club within the Academy and its walls are adorned tastefully with a range of contemporary art. The room was already crowded upon my arrival and clearly many had come to both appreciate the venue and to hear Bird present a brief set of originals from her forthcoming album ‘Figments of our imagination‘ along with a choice number of covers.

Supported by a refined band consisting of keyboards, percussion, bass and guitar, Bird kicked off with the strong new release, The girl can’t decide, which instantly captivates with its retro beats and sweeping strings. This was swiftly followed by the hook-laden Thrill me that placed the focus squarely on her distinctive voice and its yearning character ideally reflected the soul-searching and sensual lyrics.

Bird then introduced a stripped-back version of Taylor Swift’s Shake it off, which had the audience subtly singing along and featured a section with Bird’s exquisite cello playing, before performing a dynamic live take of Hypnotise that – whilst understated at first – soon began to open out and the voice and instruments reached an exploratory and emotive climax.

A warm and relaxing interpretation of The Smiths’ classic How soon is now was a welcome addition and a reminder for me of the superb performance by Johnny Marr at Hyde Park in July. Bird’s performance, however, shifted the emphasis from the awesome guitar work of the original, to Morrissey’s timeless lyric in the company of some deft keyboard touches. Finishing the set was an uptempo Lucky, which again benefited from stirring cello playing and provided a suitable end to a very enjoyable collection.

Check Bird’s new album out and discover a hidden gem in our capital city.