EDITOR’S NOTE: The ‘free’ store seems to be down right now, so check back later.
DAVID BYRNE: After the release of Love This Giant last year, we did a tour of North America and Australia that was like nothing we’ve ever done before—drums, keys and Annie and I supported by 8 choreographed brass players. We did the new material, but also a lot of recognizable songs, arranged for that group. The sound is incredible, and it’s a bit of a visual spectacle as well. We were pretty excited at how it turned out. The critical and audience response was great too! Touring a group that size with a fairly complex show is a big financial gulp, so it has taken us a while to collect enough offers in North America and Europe, but ow they are in and we kick off in a few weeks. One of our business folks had the idea that we might offer a taste of what we’re up to—so we put together an EP to give folks a taste of what to expect. It has one song that didn’t make it on the record (a waltz featuring some lovely glass harmonica), a couple of energized remixes of some of the album tunes and two live tracks of the sort of more familiar material we do in the set. Did we say it’s FREE? We’re very excited at how this whole project came out so we want more folks to discover it. Download it below!
RELATED: St. Vincent On The World Cafe
PREVIOUSLY: Concert Review David Byrne/St. Vincent At The Tower
PREVIOUSLY: St. Vincent @ Union Transfer
PREVIOUSLY: Saint Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419), was a missionary and logician. Annie Clark (1982- ), the American singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist who goes by the name St. Vincent, brings a missionary zeal to her current status as indie’s ambassador of goodwill from The Other Side. Likewise, despite all its head-spinning detours and U-turns, her music follows the pristine logic of a flowchart. Such was the case Thursday night when St. Vincent stunned a near-capacity crowd in the sweaty basement of the First Unitarian Church with a flawless recreation of selections from Actor, her just-released and deservedly hyped sophomore collection of otherworldly, asymmetrical pop.
Clark plays all the instruments on Actor, but Thursday night she was backed by a crack four-piece band – a flutist/saxophonist, a violinist, a bassist, and a drummer – that expertly replicated the album’s jigsaw arrangements and dreamy vistas. Clark handled guitar and vocal duties, and proved extraordinarily adept at both. Her guitar playing sounded like some unholy union of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and the Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary; her singing evoked the dream-pop enchantment of the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser, and the whisper-to-a-scream inscrutability of Bjork and Kate Bush. The whole ensemble was strikingly lit like a David Lynch dream sequence, with washes of bordello red and cerulean blue flickering in time with the music’s shape-shifting permutations.
Like the album, the concert opened with the aptly titled “The Strangers” and the quiet desperation of “Save Me From What I Want,” and closed with the climactic coda of “Black Rainbow” and the buzz-bomb disco strut of “Marrow.” In between came the menacing lullaby of “Bed” and the Abba-meets-Elastica “Actor Out Of Work” – and everything mirrored the dizzying bipolarity at the center of St. Vincent’s music, dramatic and altogether compelling living proof that the shortest distance between the ethereal and the visceral is not a straight line, but a pleasingly crooked one.
The performance concluded with “Your Lips Are Red,” from 2007’s Marry Me, a show-stopping meditation on 9/11. The song began as a sepulchral march, only to split open and reveal what sounded like the world’s most ornery klezmer band, which proceeded to erupt into a sonic approximation of sheer terror not heard since the shower scene in Psycho. Like just about everything St. Vincent touches, it was a potent reminder that the border between dreams and nightmares remains disturbingly porous. MORE