The last time I saw Annie Clark playing in her band St. Vincent I was blown away, she was a Rock Goddess and someone who should rightly take the world by storm. A year later I would see here perform with David Byrne and she still had the guitar skills but the show had clearly taken a more “Talking Heads” esk turn with lots of dancing in unison and fantastic use of lighting to develop a real theatrical performance. So when contemplating the potential performance of St. Vincent in 2014 I had wanted a bit of both of the last performances and that’s exactly what I got.
It is not often that an artist who has toured through previously and got their fair share of positive press over the last few years can not sell out a Saturday night at Paradiso, but once again the Dutch crowds surprised me. I was able to do a walk up start and grab a ticket at the door, and was pretty happy I could.
Annie strode onto the stage with her teased out crazy hair and started to play her guitar and dance in a very robotesk fashion, in a manner that very much befitted her. Over the course of the next few tracks you got a good understanding that you were in for a creatively artistic evening’s performance and one that would get you talking about the show afterwards if nothing else.
The first six or so songs really jumped out and grabbed the crowd and it clearly had people (me included) looking at their friends believing they were experiencing something special.
Musically I had headed into the show with only a handful of songs that I needed to hear. This meant that I could enjoy the theatrics that would ensue as I wasn’t waiting or anticipating a particular song. And theatrics we would get.
Three or four times throughout the show, in between songs Annie would dive into a spoken word narrative; “I feel like we are friends, and that I know you…” and off she went listing things about “the crowd”, and I found it fascinating to see the reaction. It was hard not to think that she was talking directly to you and this meant that some people felt compelled to yell out back to her, effectively in response to her statements, and then you also drifted back to thinking that she might just be talking about herself. All up it was a great theatrical piece in between song sets that got you thinking.
The set contained both Cheerleader and Tiger (as you would expect) and both made for a very happy JV. And that is the probably the biggest talking point of the evening, all the music is good but for an artist who has so much potential she doesn’t (for me) have that many hits. And that started me thinking if this is what St. Vincent will become, a band that feels like they are close to catapulting into the music stratosphere yet are falling just a little bit short. The theater of the current shows certainly adds a different dimension but I am unsure if it is better, rather different.
Where last time I thought I had just seen an emerging rock goddess, aka a female Jake White. This time I came away thinking this was closer to a female version of David Byrne. And let me be clear, both are amazing in their own right but still I feel St. Vincent are striving to find their own feet and live up to the total potential that I think this band truly has.
So it was a very, very solid Saturday night performance of theater which I walked away from loving but there is still that feeling that these guys could easily be much bigger than they currently are and I wait with anticipation for there next move...