St. Vincent at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 22nd February 2014
It’s safe to say that Annie Clark, aka St.Vincent, couldn’t be arriving on our shores with any more hype than currently surrounds her. Couple the immediate release of her fourth and most complete album ‘St. Vincent’, with what many describe as the best festival moment of 2013 that was her set with David Byrne at last year’s Electric Picnic. A former graduate of the Polyphonic Spree chorus, the Sufjan Stevens shadows and the David Byrne sidekick-class; Annie Clark has come to Dublin’s Olympia to finally establish herself as a mainstay creative force that has been lurking in the doldrums for far too long.
But first, Slow Skies, a GoldenPlec ‘Plec Pick’ for 2014 (see article here), took to the stage to round off a series of high profile support slots which included their successful stint at the NCH with James Vincent McMorrow. Karen Sheridan, flanked by Conal Herron and Patrick O’Laoghaire, glides through the warm Olympia air as her ethereal cry wafts over the engrossed Dublin crowd. Slows Skies treat us to some new material, appearing on a “soon to be finished” EP, while also tempting us with stunning older tracks like On the Shore. A raft of new fans should now be eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new EP and another full concert date.
Annie Clark, and her striking set of pins, appear on stage in a small black number: red fabric-dashes splatter her midriff as if she has just had open-heart surgery. Her new full-head of lilac hair tops off this striking onstage presence. The onslaught begins early on as St.Vincent deploys the robust trio of Rattlesnake, Digital Witness and Cruel. From the offset, we receive a full three-course meal taste of what to expect for the night ahead.
A choreographed, machine-driven show unfolds as Clark shuffles to strobes, moves her arms in jitters and contorts her body to the weighty beats. Toko Yasuda, her onstage accomplice, glides with her in tandem as the impressive lighting dresses their bodies. By the time that I Prefer Your Love comes by, Clark can be found wheeling herself around atop the lofty three-tier podium erected in the middle of the stage, turning what was an otherwise lulling performance into something captivating and brilliant. While Clark is on stage you simply cannot take your eyes off her, as her unpredictability is about as entrancing as it is engaging.
When Clark does interact with the crowd, what at first seems like the first sign of non-scripted dialogue soon reveals itself as some of the most structured moments of the night. She announces that “we have much in common, you and I” before questioning the little quirks of people and life. By the time she wheels them out for the third instance, sections of the crowd become tired of her lengthy performance art speeches.
Cheerleader showcases Clark’s remarkable vocals as she retires her guitar to play with the mic stand alone. Marrow sees Clark don her guitar once more as she, not for the time first time on the night, unmercifully shreds her guitar. St. Vincent doesn’t play her guitar like anyone else, it’s distinctly her style and a style that is truly riveting to watch and to listen to.
Bring Me Your Loves shines before she leaves the stage, only to return after the encore, finally wrapping up with an extended, immersive and intense version of Your Lips are Red.
This isn’t just a concert, it’s a marathon, a creative force, a rehearsed art-show, a striking visual experience, a glittering musical endeavour. From the lofty highs to the spacious lows, the movement-driven sections to the oozing of sex appeal, and the command showcased in her guitar playing, it’s a show that you can’t stop thinking about and a shining light in what must be the most exciting and individual creative new star to blaze her way onto the weary current musical landscape.
We just want to know where and when can we see St.Vincent again.
St. Vincent Photo Gallery
Photos: Kieran Frost