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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Jade Bird at The Bluebird: Two birds with one stone

English singer-songwriter Jade Bird took the stage at the iconic Bluebird Cafe, sharing her secrets and songs with an attentive room.
Alex Brodeur
Jade Bird performs at The Bluebird Cafe, as photographed on April 16, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Alex Brodeur)

“The Bluebird is used to a bit of a whisper, I’m coming in hot,” Jade Bird said. 

Singer-songwriter Jade Bird came to The Bluebird Cafe on April 16, bringing her charm and vocal process to the iconic stage. While she grew up primarily in England, she’s known for her Americana and folk-rock sound. She released her debut EP, “Something American” in 2017, with impressive vocals and deep-cutting lyrics. Since then, she’s come to be known as a protege of Sheryl Crow and Brandi Carlile, and has released two full-length albums, “Different Kinds of Light” and “Jade Bird.” Most recently, she released an EP “Burn The Hard Drive” on April 10 and embarked on her acoustic “Open Up The Songbook” tour. She brought this tour to The Bluebird Cafe, bringing new music, previous hits and unheard demos to a room with crystal-clear acoustics, meaning listeners were in for a distinctly Nashville night.

Local openers across the tour were hand-selected by Jade Bird, and being in Music City, there were a lot of contenders for The Bluebird show; we were lucky enough to watch Julie Lavery, a folk singer-songwriter perform. Lavery’s soothing voice filled the room as she sang “The Answer,” a song about belief in a greater power. “We’re so focused on the sky / We don’t see that you and I / Are the answer to all the questions,” Lavery sang to an alert crowd that could hear every note. As a longtime fan of Jade Bird and The Bluebird Cafe, Lavery expressed gratitude for her time on stage.

“With Jade Bird and The Bluebird Cafe, you could say I’m killing two birds with one stone,” Lavery said. 

In another special moment, she recognized her father, who had flown in on his birthday to watch her perform. She then went into more thoughtful music with “Dr. Doctor,” which ponders being in a dark place during the pandemic. Following a similar theme, she debuted a song that will be on her upcoming EP, centered around the everyday difficulties of being human.

After Lavery left the stage, the crowd didn’t have to wait long, as in the quickest opener-to-main act transition I’ve ever seen, Jade Bird walked onstage 30 seconds later. We were glad that she did. As cheering filled the room and I looked around, I realized just how intimate The Bluebird was; there really were no bad seats. 

Jade Bird would go on to share secrets with us throughout the night, but first, she came in loud and powerful with “Ruins.” The song ponders the way that a relationship and feelings can change in a moment, like the flip of a switch. “‘Cause one minute I love you / And the next it’s all in ruins,” Bird sang with clarity and fervor. Throughout the night, she would go on to take us through the stages of heartbreak, beginning here with confusion and changing feelings.

She kept the high energy and impressive breathwork as she went into “I Get No Joy,” and “Uh Huh.” The former focuses on the cyclical nature of life and includes a fast-paced chorus that had many audience members bobbing their heads along. The latter, similarly rapid, interrogates a past lover about a new relationship. While the lyrics seemingly represent feelings of anger and confusion, Bird sang them with passion and a smile on her face. 

She paid homage to the venue, calling it the “most iconic venue in the world,” and spoke to the audience about her tour. Her aim with the “Open Up The Songbook” tour was to showcase the meaning behind the music and connect with the audience. As she spoke to the room, she interacted with people and cracked jokes, making it feel like we were all just friends talking about music. 

One of her recent songs, “C’est La Vie” follows the stages of heartbreak by focusing on learning to move on, even when you love someone. When speaking about this song, Bird explained how when you’re in a relationship with someone you also are in a band with, the more tumultuous the fights between shows, the better the onstage performance. Despite having a strong connection, she had to learn to move on, singing “If it’s not me then / C’est la vie.”

She continued exploring some of the darker aspects of ending a relationship in “Burn The Hard Drive,” which she related to deleting old photos and getting rid of things that stimulate memories. Similarly, the building, contemplative “Cathedral” explores leaving someone at the altar. With the acoustics of the venue, it sounded as if we were in the cathedral, hearing her cry out the lyrics.

Turning the heat back up, Bird dove into her cathartic heartache song: “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks. The iconic song is one of immense grief and is something that Bird related to a dark period in her life and sang with precision. 

“Some people sing ‘Dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive,’” Bird said. “This is my version of that.”

It wouldn’t be The Bluebird without a special guest, and Bird brought up Lavery to sing “C.O.M.P.L.E.X.” off her EP “Burn The Hard Drive.” As the two shared the microphone and sang about accepting that a relationship was over, their voices complemented each other and filled the room. It also wouldn’t be The Bluebird without unreleased music, and just as promised, Bird delivered with “Jet Black,” a song about the feeling of walking away, ready to be done with someone who treated you poorly. 

But Bird didn’t leave us in the dark corners of heartbreak, she brought us back into the light and showcased the joy of creating music by playing a song that she had written four hours prior. The Bluebird, being a small venue, lacks a large dressing room. Before the show, her manager had said that she would leave the car running and Bird could practice in the car. In a matter of minutes, without meaning to write a song, Bird had created one from the phrase “Leave the car running.” She performed the song for us on the very day and in the same vicinity that she wrote it, something she had never done before.

“What a place to have a first time,” Bird said.

The moment was special for many audience members as well, no doubt, as it felt like we were living through a moment with her that paid tribute to the distinctiveness of live music.

To close out the night, she finished the cycle of heartbreak, taking us back to the feeling of falling in love, with all the excitement and confusion that follows. She played “Headstart” and “Lottery,” both high-energy songs about falling in love amid its difficulties. Throughout the night, while she was singing emotional songs and sharing about difficult times in her life, she was also frequently laughing and made the atmosphere genuinely fun. It was almost as if she was telling us that heartache is hard, but even in these moments there is so much passion to be found.

As a longtime fan of Jade Bird and as someone who has had The Bluebird on her bucket list for four years, this was a sweet moment. Shows like this, with rawness and heartfelt vocals, remind you of the beauty of the city we get to call home.

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About the Contributors
Claire Gatlin
Claire Gatlin, Former Life Editor
Claire Gatlin ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and political science. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and rollerblading. You can reach her at [email protected].
Alex Brodeur
Alex Brodeur, Staff Photographer
Alex Brodeur (‘27) is majoring in communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. When not taking photos for The Hustler, you can find him listening to music, traveling or visiting museums. He can be reached at [email protected].
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