ST VINCENT (London Queen Elizabeth Hall, 10/11/11)
Over the years, I’ve seen Annie Clark a number of times; twice she’s been brilliant, twice dreadful (with one other show falling somewhere in between). For the first two songs, I genuinely feared tonight's show would fall into the latter camp, with an atrocious, bassy mix decimating the 80’s-tastic brilliance of “Surgeon,” the best song off her new album. But things rapidly improved, with an stellar “Cruel”, a beautifully brutal Pop Group cover (complete with Mark Stewart strutting around and screaming like a madman) and a beastly rendition of old favourite “Marrow.” I sometimes think that her experimentation with loops and pedals leads to performances easier to admire than enjoy, but tonight she got the balance between the accessible and the avant-garde just right. Plus, she stormed into the audience repeatedly screaming “MOTHERFUCKER” at the top of her lungs, shredding wildly on her guitar and falling into the laps of certain (bloody lucky) audience members, a practice I always approve of.
(Photo: John Gleeson)