Tuesday, 28 April 2009

St Vincent Live Review, Hoxton Bar & Kitchen 21/04/09

It was definitely a fitting, early London summer evening for the surreal, dreaming soundscapes of Annie Clark, better known as St Vincent. She was here to promote her newest, yet unreleased album, Actor. While it may have been leaked online, and obviously had been heard by much of the audience, Annie was surprisingly sincere, pointing out how the audience seemed to know all of her new songs, and yet hadn't had to opportunity to purchase them.

The new album aside, much of the setlist drew from her debut, Marry Me (brilliantly named after a repeated phrase from the alarmingly underrated comedy – Arrested Development), which she played notably differently from the original recordings. The title track of the album, with its slower-paced, tuneful, piano-led, light-hearted musings on matrimony, got a good reaction from the attendees, particularly the line ‘Let’s do what Mary and Joseph did/Without the kid’, to which she insightfully interjected ‘that line does go down well…except in the bible belt’.

This instance was one of the many exchanges with the Hoxton crowd, and Annie maintained an overall relaxed demeanour, and even when regularly switching and altering pedals, she was laid back and engaged with the audience. While her sense of humour can never be in doubt given the inspiration for her first album’s title, she was comfortable joking with the fans. She gave her thanks for their clapping to the beat of ‘Your Lips Are Red’, while commenting that she bet they didn’t realise the song was five minutes before they committed to providing the rhythm section!

The louder, heavier (surprisingly so for St Vincent) songs were infused with the most energy, with 'Landmines', 'Black Rainbow', 'Your Lips are Red' and 'Marrow' all lighting up the stage. Annie even referenced this rockier segment - ‘while we’re on the rock train…we’ll go here’, drawing attention to the four/three track stream of heavy riffs on her Fender Jaguar. The final destination of this ‘rock train’- ‘Your Lips are Red’, was a particular highlight, with Annie riffing on her Jaguar as she interchanged between two mics (one a vintage Shure antique cased Coppertone), alternating between personas as she switched between the different styles of vocals.

The new songs worked well, and although slightly more cinematic and theatrical (most likely the result of many of them being originally conceived as film scores), they connected and combined well with her debut album. We were subject to an impressive performance, with great stage presence, which easily made up for the lack of a backing band. Annie was relaxed, enjoyed playing and was technically excellent. Her connection to the fans helped bolster the summer atmosphere and she definately worked off the positive crowd.

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