St. Vincent at O2 ABC Glasgow, 26/8/14

It’s amazing how far Annie Clark has come in recent years, we’ve been following her since she graced the Sleazy’s stage some half decade or so ago, since then she’s continued to build on her outstanding output, made an album and toured with David Byrne and now in her latest incarnation seems as slick and confident as ever in a show that sets her up as a centre-piece pop star rather than the temperamental budding rock star she previously conveyed.

Gone are the springy black curls of old, she went blond for this year’s self titled effort, but tonight her hair is tied up tight and she cuts a rather intimidating figure, far removed from the cute girl awkwardly chatting to a room of pervy middle-aged men when she played Stereo on the Strange Mercy tour.

She moves guitar-less into centre stage, affront a large set of stairs and proceeds into a set of wired, robotic dancing as the intro to new self-titled album opener ‘Rattlesnake’ kicks in.

Still, even with this reimagining of the St. Vincent persona there’s one thing that has always been a defining factor in Annie Clark’s performance, that being her phenomenal guitar playing skills and we don’t have to wait long as she’s handed one mid song and gives the ABC crowd their first taste of her wonderfully complex but never cringeworthy skills.

This is a synced up, professional, even at times choreographed performance, even when Clark addresses the crowd it’s calculated as she seems to be talking in proverbs with lines like “a very warm welcome to the freaks and the others of Glasgow” and “sometimes you contemplate walking into traffic” are delivered in a tone you would never have expected from her a couple of years ago, she’s seeming found her stage confidence and it makes for a brilliant show.

Just when you might have become a little unnerved by the new St. Vincent stage banter, thinking you’ve wandered into a Gaga show or something of the likes, she blasts into the harrowing almost industrial, robotic pop of 2009’s Actor standout ‘Marrow’, before she goes back into pop start persona lazing across the stairs in an engrossing rendition of ‘I Prefer Your Love’.

There’s some more calculated, unnerving yet captivating banter about supermarkets and creating fire with a science kit magnifying glass that do feel slightly out of place in Glasgow, but as soon as she rocks into ‘Actor Out of Work’ we once again see Clark’s rockstar potential as raw as ever.

She finally reaches the top of the pedestal/stairs for the enormous hooks of Strange Mercy track ‘Cheerleader’, complete with slightly odd robotic male backing vocal sample/effect, which seems to be shrugged off with confidence during the huge chorus followed by a dramatic fall down the stairs.

There’s time for an encore and an elongated, dark, sleazy, post industrial version of early track ‘Your Lips Are Red’, which eventually closes with Clark soloing and leaving us all pretty much gobsmacked.

There has never been any denying the unique talents of St. Vincent but it seems that four albums down the line she has become the complete package, how much Dumbarton’s favourite son has to do with that is anybody’s guess, but we certainly cannot wait to see where she goes from here.

Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Gordon Ballantyne


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