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St. Vincent – Webster Hall – May 20, 2009

May 21st, 2009

St. Vincent - Webster Hall - May 20, 2009

Remember Annie? The redheaded rapscallion who sang about bottom dollars? Annie Clark is not that Annie. If “The sun will come out” Annie is high-fructose-corn-syrup sweet, Clark, doing business as St. Vincent, is a whiskey sour: smooth and sharp with plenty of bite. Opening with “Black Rainbow,” off her just-released album, Actor, St. Vincent spent the night bouncing back and forth between a two-headed microphone, each giving her a different “voice.” This was perfect, because she’s got a full-fledged Dr Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde thing going on. One moment the music was polished and arching, dominated by Clark’s vocals and then, without warning, as it was during the opener, it explodes into a cacophony of guitar shredding. Yes, she still shreds.

From there Clark went through most of the album, including a solo stint on “Oh God,” referred to jokingly as a “deep cut.” At times things were a bit rough. It’s apparent that the chemistry between St. Vincent and her band—featuring four guys playing everything from bass guitar to clarinet—is still in development. It’s just the second show of the tour, so expect some growth.

My question is where did all these people come from? It’s like some stop-motion flip book: One moment you’re standing in an empty Mercury Lounge in wonderment at the music coming out of this diminutive woman, then flip, flip, flip you’re at the back of a packed Webster Hall, craning to catch a glimpse of her Gibson. Unfortunately, the energy from the stage often dissipated in the room before it reached me.

The encore was easily the highlight, ending with a retooled “Lips Are Red” that was the pitch-perfect blend of Jeckyll and Hyde. In the end, you may not want to adopt lil’ Annie, but with her lips so red, skin so fair, voice so bold and guitar so fiery, another show at the end of the tour would be nice. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com