With St Vincent retuning to the fold under a swell of anticipation, Getintothis’ Josh McMahon was on hand to witness the results.
A hustle around the evening bustle of Brixton is an apt setting for St Vincent’s London leg of the Fear the Future tour, following the release of Annie Clark’s latest release Masseduction – an album dealing with the full contrast of our modern existence with all it’s glamour and indifference.
There is no support tonight, only a showing of Clark’s directional debut The Birthday Party, which lends itself to an ominous and unconventional atmosphere from the outset.
After a short wait, St Vincent is revealed by an opening in the left side of the stage curtain, greeted by triumphant applause, to perform a more orchestral stripped down version of Marry Me from here first album of that name. The curtain continues to open song by song, with Clark playing reworked versions of her older hits, waltzing between soulful orchestral textures back to back with pulsating electronic takes often descending into chaos in the finale in the classic St Vincent style.
Songs like Birth in Reverse are a real highlight, now presented as if Clark was the long-lost child of Prince and Donna Summer, the bassier more rhythm-centric groove making an already brilliant track more danceable than ever. The fact that Strange Mercy is performed whilst strewn on the stage floor shows Annie gives more than just a recital of songs but equally a theatrical performance.
Emotional delivery and violins, strobe lights and all the gloss of a Heat magazine fresh out of sweaty palms; It could seem as if Clark is confused as to whether she is playing Wigmore Hall and Studio 54, not Brixton Academy, when in fact this is a brilliantly fitting juxtaposition in line with her latest artistic vision.
In a performance so controlled, it’s clear to see that Clark has really gone to town this time on her image as a whole. Striking backdrops of clashing neon colours that sits somewhere between Matisse and an Ikea catalogue, emphasises the obtuse and crass sense of what Clark is trying to put across.
Dressed in pink PVC and faux fur, it’s as if Annie is trying to portray an character somewhere between Barbie and Jessica Rabbit, whilst at the same time pointing the finger at a contrived, objectified and fickle media.
After a brief interlude, St Vincent returns, This time playing Masseduction in full. Her artistic point is outlined clearer than ever, with songs like Pills elevating the desire of Instant gratification. Masseduction, preaches against advertisement and hyper sexualisation in the media whilst actively partaking in it to some extent.
St Vincent is clearly using every aspect of the live show to provoke using contrast, contradiction and context as the medium to drive her point home. During Los Angles, Annie is add libbing occasionally to remind us that she is the virtuoso we know as opposed to this joyously plastic reincarnation we are currently presented with, as the music video depicting a cosmetic surgery plays behind her.
Overall, the Fear the Future tour is a bold move for St Vincent. Veering away from the musically highbrow tone of her last tour, to now being completely absent of a band tonight – a nod to the cost effective means of touring in a profit driven music industry? It’s hard to tell.
One thing is certain though, is St Vincent’s self awareness and willingness to be misunderstood for the sake of good art. She has achieved the mean task of making something largely culturally aware yet intensely personal and relatable in parts. It seems that there is very little for St Vincent to fear the future with a show this well crafted.