St Vincent // Live Review

stvincent2Roundhouse – October 25th

If tonight proves anything it’s that St Vincent’s live show is pretty much untouchable right now. I’ve seen it described as choreographing an apocalypse and in The Roundhouse tonight there’s definitely that feeling of a perfect storm. Annie Clark orchestrates a show that is by turns thrilling and exhilarating, inventive and creative, controlled and chaotic. This, right now, is the most electrifying live act these eyes have seen.

Every second of the show is spellbinding. It’s spine-tingling and inventive as well as tightly bound, with Clark is in control of every shredded note and every practiced-to-perfection robotic move. Yet despite all the kinetic energy it seems not a movement or thought is wasted.
Her last record proved to be a gift that revealed itself in surprising ways, full of shocks and bracing twists and turns. “A party record you could play at a funeral,” she had kept saying about it and there’s that feeling tonight: heavy lyrics and intricately thought out ideas painted over in vibrant bold sonic colours.

It means we’re witnessing a unique musician throwing her imagination at her art. Tonight’s set sees her cherry pick from all her albums. After a rousing set from support band Coves, Clark enters the stage and throws some martial art-like shapes before ‘Rattlesnake’ bursts out of the amps followed by the helter skelter brilliance of ‘Digital Witness’.

Her hair white and pushed back, her fingers moving effortlessly over the strings to tease all manner of sounds from her guitar, she addresses the crowd with the narrative about her and he audience having things in common. She’s said this to crowds around the world throughout her shows this year – but the key line is always the realisation that although ‘attaching pizza boxes to your arms as wings’ doesn’t mean you can fly there’s always that belief you might next time.

And my does Clark fly. The most recent eponymous album is brought into Technicolor life. The interplay with keyboardist/bassist Toko Yasuda is spellbinding, moving together in unison as they play, while the regal ‘Prince Johnny’ sees her end upside down atop a three-tier block at the centre of the stage staring at the audience.

Everything is in sync. ‘Bring Me Your Loves’ becomes more snarling – a demand rather than any type of pleading – while ‘Birth In Reverse’ zips along. For the encore she reappears on the tiered tower with just her guitar to play a beautifully intimate version of ‘Strange Mercy’ before closing the set with a vicious wall of sound ‘Your Lips Are Red’, but not before she’s crowdsurfed and run back through the audience to the stage before the song has collapsed in on itself.

It’s Clark’s ability to cram her songs with so many brilliantly curious ideas and make them fit perfectly alongside each other that make her such a compelling star. Tonight she adds another layer to those songs. It makes for a show that’s cathartic, artistic, unique … most of all just simply brilliant.