Birdy at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire
This fledgling is skybound; 16-year-old Jasmine van den Bogaerde, known in the industry as Birdy – a talented singer, songwriter and pianist gave a compelling performance last night at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
There remains to be a reasonable amount of criticism that surrounds her self-titled album Birdy; all but one song are cover tracks – emotive indie covers, some of which were written by men twice her age. However, this young woman had sense in adding her own affecting original Without a Word to the album, dispelling the accusation that she could not possibly understand the depth of the lyrics she sings – a thought that has offended many. After watching her perform live, we believe her intensity is no pose.
A few have even described Birdy’s releases as “pointless” and “aimless” supposedly because she plays cover tracks. To her credit, some of the songs are unrecognisable; she has certainly put her stamp on them – the simple piano arrangement combined with her “innocence” has transformed the originals. It’s hard to tell who Birdy’s target audience might be…X Factor types who relish young women singing covers? Let’s hope not. Thankfully, the crowd at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire last night was a diverse mix of people and ages.
When Birdy launched into her first song, it was plain to see she is a promising new talent. Her power and presence was very impressive for a relatively new artist, performing like an old-time professional and without fault. The word “haunting” is commonly used in music critiquing, but here is a genuine use of it – her ghostly and powerful delivery of the songs stunned the crowd; her voice and intonation sounded as though it was being played from the record – perfect. It’s a pity Jasmine van den Bogaerde has chosen “Birdy” as her stage name, as she would much better suit something with a little more surge behind it.
Birdy’s piano playing was impeccable and emotionally resonant; she has a sure talent. Unfortunately, her band dominated the stage, and took the focus away from Birdy, who was positioned to the left of the stage. The spotlights flooded down on the band, who were centre stage – a very strange arrangement. Birdy was reticent during her performance, whilst the drummer and bassist looked as though they were playing a rock show, thrashing their heads and throwing their limbs around, which looked a little foolish considering the nature of the music. Even the cellist lifted his cello above his head as if to do a wild Paul Simonon style smashing of his instrument – this was totally bizarre. Meanwhile, Birdy sat peacefully at the piano. The general consensus in the room was the same as ours: the crowd was baffled.
We know that Birdy writes her own songs, and just as soon as she pushes past the limitations of cover tracks and expands just a little, she is destined to follow in the vein of Adele and Florence; she has a similar voice, but needs the same level of energy.
Birdy was somewhat reserved throughout her set, speaking only a few quiet words of gratitude. When she releases some self-written songs, ditches her angelic “innocence” and lets loose a little, she is certain to take off flying.
It has been documented that Birdy released cover tracks in order to give her time to study at school, which was potentially a huge mistake – we could have waited, Birdy! Nonetheless, it’s only a matter of time before we hear some new and original material from this artist, and we should all look forward to it.
For further information about Birdy and future events visit her website.
Watch the video for Skinny Love here: