Live review: David Byrne & St. Vincent at The Royal Concert Hall, 29/8/13

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe peaceful tune of birdsong fills the vast cavity of The Royal Concert Hall as patrons locate their seats.

Seconds before entering the stage the disembodied voice of David Byrne urges his audience to resist the urge to record/photograph the show using a ‘device’, and why not?

It’s testament to the time and energy that has gone into tonight’s production, that Byrne would like you to view proceedings with your eyes and not a gadget…

After all it takes time and dedication to choreograph ones own movements around a stage this size, however to choreograph the movements of an eight-piece brass band is something else.

That combined that with the Concert Hall’s seating arrangements gives the show a feel more akin to a rock and roll theatre performance rather than a concert.

Mighty things were expected from the pairing of David Byrne and Annie Clark (who records as St. Vincent).

The pair, who exchanged emails after bumping into each other at a New York party, have been in the process of recording Love this Giant for the past three years and as Clark admits mid set “the fact that we can be here tonight to play the album in front of you, like this, really is something special”.

Opening with ‘Who’ the debut track from Love this Giant showcases all eight brass players in their full glory; French horn, trumpet and the grand sousaphone all perfectly complement each other.

Next, Clark shuffles on stage teetering back and forth on a pair of high heels, with a mop of peroxide curls and a sultry voice, then comes Byrne wearing a microphone headset and a dapper white suit.


The pair perfectly complement each other both dancing in rhythm like robots, her alluring voice and his decomposition of beat and lyrics.

During ‘Northern Lights’ Byrne and Clark start to mechanically attack a thermin, which sends a shrill sci-fi whelp out to the ecstatic crowd adding again to spectacle of the show.

‘I Should Watch TV’ makes full use of a vocodor and make it neigh on impossible not to dance.

‘Weekend in the Dust’ showcases Clark’s vocal range and the brass octet’s full gusto, lending a funk and swing vibe as the whole crew march around on stage like a New Orleans funeral procession.

In addition to playing Love this Giant in its entirety the pair also play hits from their extensive back catalogues.

Tracks such as ‘Cheerleader’ show just how tender and melodic Clark’s voice can be.

Mid set Byrne sings ‘This Must Be the Place’, which sends the audience into an isle dancing fervour.

However, nothing can outshine the double encore surprise of ‘Burning Down the House’ and ‘Road to Nowhere’, which have the full house leaving in a fever.

more photos

Words/Photos: Angela Canavan


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