Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Concert Review! St. Vincent @ the Middle East (Marry Me, Annie)

Annie Clark a.k.a. St. Vincent hit the stage with her full band at around 11:30 PM for a sold out Middle East Downstairs last Saturday night. A packed crowd full of college students with their X-ed out fists raised high greeted Clark when she finally appeared. Her fans were eager to witness the talented musician in her element: live. With her quirky charm, unmistakable voice and dazzling guitar playing, St. Vincent did not disappoint.

“Holy cow!… My name is Annie, but um, but you can call me Annie,” said Clark, looking awestruck at the massive turnout. Throughout the night, she addressed the crowd with her unusual comments, much to everyone’s delight. Her stage banter included a shout-out to JP (Jamaica Plain), anecdotes from Montana and the announcement that “the Camaros don’t run on gasoline – they run on dreams and hopes.”

Clark kicked things off with album opener “Now Now,” which set the tone for the night. The song’s climactic ending featured Annie shredding on her bright red guitar in true rock star style – a sign of things to come. Clark went on to perform the rest of the songs off of Marry Me, along with a couple other bonuses: her cover of the Beatles’ “Dig a Pony,” a fan favorite, and a new song that had the punch and haunting mood of “Your Lips Are Red.”

The crowd was in for a special treat as The Dresden Dolls’ Amanda Palmer made an appearance to lend her vocals to the chorus of “Marry Me.” A Massachusetts native and friend (and fan) of Clark, Palmer has covered “Marry Me” at her live shows in Boston in the past.

While her secondary microphone could have been louder, Clark and her band performed each song with an intensity that simply does not translate onto CD recordings. Her barefoot violinist was especially impressive with his exciting instrumental flourishes. Together, Clark and the band created magic by adding new dynamics to each song; it was like hearing the album for the first time.

Clark ended the show with an unforgettable rendition of “Your Lips Are Red,” complete with some serious guitar ripping. The crowd, sad to see Clark go, roared for an encore and got its wish. Clark returned to the stage for a graceful performance of “What Me Worry,” the album’s closer.

Aspiring artists, take note – if there’s a way to rock a live show, Annie Clark wrote the book on it.

To hear songs by St. Vincent, tune in to Girl Powa! on Wednesday nights--technically Thursday mornings--from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m.

--Jessy Bartlett

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