herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Review

It's the Official St Vincent Shuffle that gets us. Has the woman got wheels on her heels or is the ground moving beneath her? Neither, it seems. It's all the work of Ms Annie Clark, better known as the incomparable St Vincent, and boy, has she got some serious moves on her.

No point in staring at your feet - not when there's a whole lotta choreographed dance sequences to get through. Indeed, America's leading force in alternative, electronically-fused, art rock doesn't do things by halves.

Take the hypnotic, sci-fi robo-groove of Cruel, for example - a song that would mystify even the most dexterous of multi-tasking, six-string virtuosos and vocalists. St. Vincent makes it look easy. And, she never misses a chance to bust a move. She's like that. So, too, is her band.

What's more, Clark has only gone and changed her appearance again. With her jet-black hair and skin-tight leather get-up, she could easily pass for a member of Shakespears Sister. Or Ursa, the villainous Kryptonian from the first Superman flick. Either way, she looks like a pop star.

OBSESSION

Clark reckons she's got a lot in common with her fans, too. "You once had a childhood obsession with Edward Scissorhands that was so intense," she muses, "you ended up looking like this." Aha! Yes, that's where she got her style inspiration from.

It's a spellbinding experience, this; futuristic in both melody and presentation, complete with furious, electro-rock wig-outs (St Vincent is ferocious with an axe) and transcendent field jams (Digital Witness brings out the aforementioned shuffle in us all).

An illuminated podium centre-stage allows for Annie to get her slow-mo climb and tumble on.

Yep, things get weird at a St Vincent gig. Sometimes, a little too weird (the woman does talk an awful lot of whimsical nonsense in between songs, and the whole singing-in-a-bed shtick at the end is just silly).

The set list, however, is magnificent. A Grammy award-winning talent, St Vincent can be subtle, sultry and esoteric.

The mesmerising singer and guitarist can also melt your face off (the twitchy Rattlesnake and the blistering Your Lips Are Red see Clark embracing her inner rock goddess).

Four albums in and St Vincent (32) has taken everything from her past, be it her time in the Polyphonic Spree to the wonderful noises she made with David Byrne on Love This Giant, combining every lesson in stage craft and musical trickery to create a confident, fully-formed and compelling exhibition of sound and imagery.

Awesome performer, awesome band. The coolest female artist on the planet right now?

Most definitely.

HHHHI

> CHRIS WASSER

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