Imagine embodying 1970’s pre-disco glamour mixed with guitar battles, palpable beats, hilarious antics, rotating sets, stage theatrics, light sabers, a whole lot of funk, and a strong female vocalist singing three-part harmonies with her seductive Sirens. If you can imagine that, then you can begin to understand why we can’t shut up about last week’s St. Vincent show at the Hollywood Bowl!
Rock icon Annie Clark of St. Vincent has channeled all the soulful goods of the ‘70s into her latest album, “Daddy’s Home,” and brought it to life on stage for our viewing and listening pleasure.
The opening acts did justice to the night. They provided a great sound, energy and vibe. First up was Mariba who brought an authentic voice with a soulful energy that captured the early birds who arrived to the Hollywood Bowl.
For the faithful, then came Spoon. The Austin-based group is an indie rock fan favorite. Lead singer Britt Daniel engaged with the crowd and they loved every moment. If you have never seen Spoon before, this is another band you might want to put on your to-do list.
Surrounded by hundreds of excited St. Vincent fans hastily taking their seats – in what appeared to be a sold-out show – was a surreal experience. From reading the expressions across many of the nameless faces in the audience, it became clear that for many of them, this was their first concert back at the beautiful Hollywood Bowl since it closed its doors more than a year ago. So many people coming together under their shared interest for St. Vincent filled the atmosphere with a surge of positive energy. I remember watching the moon rise over the impressive arched band shell just before the lights dimmed and thinking that it all felt sort of magical. St. Vincent matched that level of magic, put some fire behind it, and then turned up the heat a degree… or ten.
Excited to enjoy live music again, specifically St. Vincent, the crowd erupted when the house lights went dark, signaling the start of the show. A warm glow emanated from the stage, revealing a sunny day on a NY city block set design, transporting us back to the grit and glamour of the 1970s. Band members strutted into position and began playing soulful funk for the backup singers to saunter onto stage while singing their alluring doo-wops. Surmounting anticipation continued for the arrival of our favorite guitar goddess, and she was well worth the wait! Oozing with sexy swagger, Annie Clark emerged center stage on a rotating platform, sporting a candy apple red blazer (the explosive kind of red that pops next to her Debbie Harry platinum bob) and matching hot pants, white vinyl knee-high boots, and a green boa. Honestly, red has never looked so good.
With sultry choreographed moves, St. Vincent opened the show singing “Digital Witness” with a groovy twist, followed by “Down,” where she took soulful leads on guitar and exhaled harmonic vocal runs that made us sink in our seats. When she upped the tempo with gripping high-energy songs like “Birth in Reverse” and “Sugar Boy,” her guitar skills were on full display by breaking into riveting call and response guitar battles. As if that wasn’t entertaining enough, during these toe-to-toe dueling guitar face-offs, the crowd was visually treated to theatrical light shows. The light sabers I mentioned earlier weren’t actual light sabers, but they might as well have been. St. Vincent’s backup vocalists grabbed lights we assumed were just part of the set’s backdrop and used them as moving props to entertain. Her live show is a very well thought out roller coaster showcasing her indisputable multifaceted talents, heart, intellect, and wit – like when she answers a call halfway through her set.
Highlights for me were the rise and fall in her vocal stylings with songs like “Pay Your Way in Pain” where she plays slide guitar, and the catchy tune to “My Baby Wants a Baby” when her guitar humorously took on the persona of all her failings. She stumbles onto stage with her failings, tortured by the weight of it all and decides to put an end to it, by throwing the baggage across the stage.
St. Vincent closes out the night with a memorable performance of “The Melting Sun.” The ever-changing cinematic set designs ended with vibrant roses adorning its rotating platform. Again, the stage was lit with glowing warm lights, as the incredible backup singers joined Annie Clark in a cappella, split into hauntingly enchanting harmonies. The audience jumped to their feet in applause for St. Vincent’s final bow.
TO VIEW THE SHOW PHOTO GALLERY
PHOTOS by DUSTIN DOWNING
COURTESY OF HOLLYWOOD BOWL
St. Vincent truly puts on an amazing show and if you have a chance to catch it, I highly suggest you do. In fact, I demand it! St. Vincent moves on with her tour, so keep an eye out for her.