David Byrne & St Vincent
There's something slightly Lydia Deetz like — hair notwithstanding — about St. Vincent, aka born Annie Clark. Clark, in all her petite, cherubic glory always comes off as a mix of zany and sweet, and it's something about that (in addition to raw talent) which makes her a perfect collaborator for David Byrne, who, at 60, is exactly twice her age. After meeting at a benefit in 2009, the duo ended up working on an album together, and the result, Love This Giant, debuted recently. Byrne and Clark embarked on a 24-date fall tour to support their album, which included a stop at The Greek Theatre on Saturday night. There, they played a 22-song set that mixed ten tracks from Giant with various reinterpretations of both artists' past work. The result was memorable.
In St. Vincent fashion, Giant features a diverse array of instruments, but lacking the usual rock band set up — guitar, bass, and drums — in favor of a theatrical horn arrangement. The star of the show was a 10-piece brass heavy band.
In the fashion of Byrne, specifically as seen during his Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno Tour, the live performance featured the band engaging in constant choreography. Beyond this there was little razzle dazzle, however; there was nary a video screen or pyrotechnics. Byrne, clad in a white blazer, and Clark, in a fitted, shiny purplish black dress, filed onto the stage at 7:50 with their band, whose instruments were already laid out on the floor of the stage waiting for them, and launched into Giant track, “Who.”
At first the crowd seemed subdued as latecomers shuffled in to find their seats. Everyone seemed to wake up a little when the band continued into the next song, “Weekend in the Dust.” But it wasn't until Byrne's solo track “Strange Overtones” that the mood began to life. Byrne moved around robotically, kind of like a bobblehead doll, while Clark shifting her arms around mechanically as she sang. The best choreographed moment was during St. Vincent's song, “Cheerleader,” when everyone laid down on the stage and Clark alone stood front and center performing.
Strong tracks were played from Giant throughout the night, including “I Should Watch TV”, “Lazarus”, and “Outside of Space and Time.” But the biggest crowd pleasers were the two encores, St. Vincent's “Cruel” and a brassy reinvention of the Talking Heads “Burning Down the House.” (Clark preempted it by describing how it was the first Byrne track she had heard as a toddler, while watching Revenge of the Nerds.)
During these and the one other Talking Heads song — “Road to Nowhere” — everyone went crazy and many moved closer to the stage, clogging up aisles. The band responded in kind, moving close to the edge of the stage to point their horns into folks' faces. It was a reminder that, good as the David Byrne and St. Vincent collaboration is, many are longing for a Talking Heads comeback.
Personal Bias: Ever since I heard about Love This Giant, I'd begun hoping to also find confirmation of a Byrne/Clark romance. The verdict is still uncertain.
The Crowd: Overwhelmingly Caucasian, older than 30, wearing jeans and sneakers.
Overheard in the crowd: “I love you Annie!” Multiple times.
Set list below
Weekend in the Dust
Save Me From What I Want
I Am An Ape
Marrow (St. Vincent cover)
This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)
The Forest Awakes
Like Humans Do
I Should Watch TV
The One Who Broke Your Heart
Outside of Space and Time
Cruel (St. Vincent cover)
Burning Down the House (Talking Heads cover)
The Party (St. Vincent cover)
Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads cover)