St. Vincent at the Iveagh Gardens, Dublin, 10th July 2015
There’s something not quite right about the crowds at some live gigs in Ireland. Maybe the serene setting, the long Irish summer nights and the fantastic options of acts on our doorstep makes us a bit more complacent at these shows. Whatever the cause, there’s a distinct feeling at these gigs that punters are out for a pleasant evening in a park rather than completely immersed into the show from the big names artists that every year are lined up at The Iveagh Gardens and venues nationwide.
Having said that, there is no doubt that the adulation aimed towards St. Vincent from the majority of the crowd is very real and Annie Clark is very happy to lap it up as she struts on stage before launching into Birth In Reverse, which features an extended guitar solo. Ms. Clark’s position as one of the best guitarists of her generation is re-affirmed with every live performance. Whether it’s shredding solos like on Rattlesnake or crunching, Arctic Monkeys-style riffs like on Huey Newton, she can trade with the best of them; all the while performing the patented “Vinnie Slide” (that may not be what it’s called), where she rapidly shuffles her feet while keeping the rest of her body motionless to give the impression of gliding around the stage.
She cuts a striking figure on this warm summer’s evening. Gone is the grey afro of the cover of last year’s eponymous album and in its place is a slicked-back, jet-black hairstyle and a leather jumpsuit, which is the apparently the result of a childhood Edward Scissorhands obsession. During Severed Crossed Fingers, Clark climbs the pink pyramid platform in the middle of the stage, giving even those down the back a good view of the performance. During Prince Johnny, she writhes around on the ground, dropping down the steps and eventually ending up upside down. There isn’t a moment of the show that isn’t visually and aurally stimulating, with plenty of synchronised robot-style dancing thrown in for good measure too.
However, the Oklahoma native’s attempt at charming the locals with a tale of wandering through St. Stephens Green and seeing famous Irish people in every face fails to hold water, particularly when one of her examples is “Séamus O’Haney”, which elicits some chuckles from the crowd.
The crowd apathy becomes apparent once again during the break before the encore. The odd yell and wolf whistle aside, general chatter ensues rather than any attempt to entice the band back on. You wouldn’t have blamed them if they didn’t bother, such is the sense of entitlement these days. In fact Huey Newton, which closes out the main set, and sees Clark on the shoulders of one of the security guards high-fiving the front row, would have been a great way to end. Of course, they do re-emerge with the odd choice of The Party from 2009’s ‘Actor’, the slowest song of the night, sung by Annie from a bed that has been carried on stage. It fails to re-ignite the crowd. However, a high-energy, extended version of Your Lips Are Red does and is a more fitting closer.
Here’s hoping the crowds in Cork and Galway will give St Vincent the energetic reception she deserves.