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A Simple Twist of Fate

July 1st, 2013

David Byrne and St. Vincent – The Capitol Theatre – June 29, 2013


Do you believe in fate? For me, a series of chance encounters over the years has led to a live performance by the collaborative pair David Byrne and St. Vincent. Back in May 2009, I spotted Byrne in the rafters of Webster Hall enjoying Annie Clark’s guitar prowess in support of her sophomore release, Actor. Fast-forward two years, the starstruck folks ahead of me in line for a James Blake show at Le Poisson Rouge were gushing about a walk-by encounter with Byrne and Clark. And Saturday night at the grand Capitol Theatre, a belated musical date started with the delicate chirping of birds welcoming audience members to their seats and spotlights framing several brass instruments strewn across the stage.

Filing in, a noticeably blonde Clark joined a headset-donning Byrne as horns blared on the opening number, “Who.” The evening intermixed songs from their joint effort, Love This Giant, with Talking Heads and St. Vincent standards. Heavily produced with playful choreography by Annie-B Parson, the brass band along with Byrne formed lines as if ready for a roll call on “Weekend in the Dust.” Clark spent most of her time shimmying back and forth across the open floor, toting her electric guitar. Byrne offered his own dance moves with some soft-shoe on “I Am an Ape.” As if stripped from the trash-compactor scene in Star Wars, Clark was walled in by the band moving dangerously closer and closer as she sang-spelled, “H-E-L-P, Help me, help me” on the strobe-light-inducing “Marrow.”

Byrne ditched his blazer to reveal suspenders on “Ice Age” and demonstrated his skills on the bugle. He called on Clark to join him front and center for “Like Humans Do,” to which she jokingly inquired, “What did we win?” But in all seriousness upon concluding “Lightning,” she sincerely remarked, “We’re superglad to be here.” And judging from the vocal responses from the crowd, so were those in attendance. Byrne revealed that “Wild Wild Life” was originally written for a video karaoke contest before everyone in the band joined in on the Talking Heads favorite, each singing a line from the song. For more fun, everyone but Clark lay down on the stage as she slowly crooned “Cheerleader.” Later she would battle against Byrne playing the theremin on “Northern Lights.” And saving the best for last, the pair returned for not one, but two encores, treating the audience to “Cruel,” “Burning Down the House,” “The Party” and “Road to Nowhere.” —Sharlene Chiu