The show last night was billed as "Andrew Bird full band show", and after listening to things about SxSW I thought that “full band” might mean that the new guitarist, Jeremy Ylvisaker, might be along. But no. Full band meant Dosh. But Dosh does mean band. I was standing 6 to 8 feet away from Mr. Bird for the concert, and in a perfect position to see what both of them were doing and where Mr. Dosh was looking. The man has to pay a particular amount of attention to what Mr. Bird is doing at any moment. When Dosh is playing by himself he is completely concentrated on what he alone is doing. It doesn't seem that he particularly notes his audience and he doesn't have anyone else to match himself to. When he is playing with Mr. Bird, his is still entirely focused on the music, but then he's watching Bird's shoes, literally, timing his own samples to those of the leader. Bird seems to remain almost entirely internally focused, but being to the side of the stage and very close rather than in the audience center, it was hard to tell if he was actually looking into the crowd or out over their heads.
Another note, one could really tell what had been in the line up for a while, and what was newly added with the new album. Bird forgot his lyrics to Heretics and probably cut the song short and had seemed to repeat a chorus of Armchair Apocrypha until he remembered where he was in the song. However, he is so charming that his audience cheers him enthusiastically even when he's very obviously screwed up. That is charisma. But while Bird is trying to remember his lyrics Mr. Dosh is not just matching his drumming to the front man, but his various samples recorded as the song began. Mr. Bird is brilliant, but Mr. Dosh is truly amazing.
Also, while I would have loved to buy the new album, and even would have paid up to $5 over the store price, I couldn't see my way clear to paying over twice the American charge. I was... shocked. I was shocked to see a CD selling for £15.