The Largo at the Coronet is a 130-seat theatre in Los Angeles which first opened in 1947, making it something of an ancient landmark in Hollywood terms.
In its opening year the venue hosted the world premiere of the English language version of Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo Galilei, and ever since it has held a reputation for staging challenging and provocative new work by musicians and comedians alike. The place has become something of a second home for Andrew Bird so it’s here that he’s come to debut his twelfth solo album, which he’s given the waggishly self-aggrandising title My Finest Work Yet.
As he proceeds to play the album in full to an audience that includes the likes of Carrie Brownstein it’s clear there’s a measure of truth to that swaggering name. My Finest Work Yet is a lush and melodic collection of songs which showcase Bird’s playful lyricism and virtuoso whistling, but they’re also shot through with nuanced political thought. This is picked up on by the show’s host, the actor John C. Reilly, who is a friend and fan of Bird’s. During a short Q&A Reilly finds himself imploring Bird to elaborate on some of his mythical and historical references. “What exactly,” he asks, “was going on in Catalonia in 1936?”
A month later I’m sat in Andrew Bird’s kitchen at his chic, minimalist home in the leafy LA neighbourhood of Los Feliz. I’ve come to find out more about why, at the age of 45, he’s made his first overtly political album. Before that, he’s making us coffee. He whistles while he works. Of course he does.