St Vincent at the Hammersmith Apollo
“Oh London, oh London…” were the first words that Annie Clark aka St Vincent spoke to the ecstatic crowd at the Hammersmith Apollo yesterday evening, the only London date in a way-too-short UK tour. The artist’s latest album, Daddy’s Home, came out more than a year ago, marking Clark’s father’s release from prison – and so much else – through the prism of 70s-era sounds. However, because of Covid and Brexit-related reasons, the band only came to the UK this month. This means that most of the people in the venue were already familiar with the new songs.
Opened by Black feminist punk band Big Joanie – a universe apart from Clark’s music but still able to engage the audience – the concert was simply perfect. Supported by an incredible band of legendary musicians (Mark Guiliana just to mention one) and equally impressive backup singers, Clark is in her element. She dances, tells silly anecdotes and goes crazy with her inseparable guitar. Behind her, psychedelic visuals. Above her head, two cartoonish clouds. On the last tour, in support of Masseduction, she had decided to perform without a band. It was just her, dressed in pink leather, playing the guitar. A celebration of a solitary and unique diva. People were… perplexed, to say the least. This gig and this whole tour have proven that with a band, she gives her best and has the most fun.
She opens with Digital Witness and Down and then goes on to play hits like Cheerleader and Birth in Reverse. She gives, of course, a lot of space to the new album, with mind-blowing renditions of Pay Your Way in Pain, …At the Holiday Party and Down and Out Downtown but sadly discards two of the best songs from Daddy’s Home – The Laughing Man and My Baby Wants a Baby. She makes up for it, fortunately, by playing the most beloved songs from Masseduction: Fear the Future, Sugarboy and, most importantly, New York, which never fails to make the crowd go crazy (and get emotional).
Throughout, she dabs herself flirtatiously with handkerchiefs with the air of a debutante, and the sweaty handkerchiefs end up in the crowd. Once or twice, she breaks out of character to tell the audience how grateful she is to be back on stage, a shared sentiment amongst artists and performers. She also fleetingly addresses the worrying political situation in the US, about which she’s been quite vocal online too.
After 90 minutes full of energy, breath-taking guitar solos and almost-literal fireworks on stage, the show slowly comes to an end, with The Melting of the Sun leaving the crowd with the impression that the music could have easily gone on forever.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit St Vincent’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Pay Your Way in Pain here: