Bayou City

St. Vincent Sticks to the Music in Her Return to Houston Last Night

St.Vincent brought Masseduction to life at House of Blues.
St.Vincent brought Masseduction to life at House of Blues. Photo by Daniel Jackson
It's been close to 11 calendar years since St. Vincent dropped her debut album Marry Me, yet throughout that time she's maintained a subtle complexity to her sound and her live show. Last night at House of Blues, she kept all of that mystery intact as she performed admirably in front of a packed room. Though the performer was just in town a little over two months ago as part of Day For Night, her set on the warm February night felt as fresh as it did for anyone who saw her perform the first time.

Performing solo and without a backing band, the artist whose real name is Annie Clark seemed to be at ease, opening up in front of a curtain on stage right. The beginning track was "Marry Me," off the album of the same name and was performed with just Clark clutching the microphone as she sang. before following-up with a chilling rendition of the song "Now, Now." By the third song, "The Strangers" off her second album Actor, it appeared that Clark was performing in order of her albums from start to finish.She went into a rousing version of "Actor Out Of Work," and the curtain seemed to open up a little more, revealing more of the stage.

click to enlarge St. Vincent played a large body of work last night. - PHOTO BY DANIEL JACKSON
St. Vincent played a large body of work last night.
Photo by Daniel Jackson

She followed up with a little heavier sounding version of the song "Cruel," and still revealing more stage. She seemed to be really enjoying herself on the large stage as she sang the second song off Strange Mercy. A backdrop revealed a large animated face while she sang the song "Cheerleader." Mixing things up a bit, the Dallas native played a third track from the release with a nice version of "Strange Mercy."

When the performer turned to her self titled release St. Vincent, she wasted no time in breaking out the hit track "Digital Witness," complete with crazy pink lighting that seemed to almost wash her out in their glaring spectrum. In a strange twist, she then followed this up with the meandering track "Rattlesnake" during which she writhed  around the microphone stand.

click to enlarge St. Vincent started off, playing tracks from all of her earlier works. - PHOTO BY DANIEL JACKSON
St. Vincent started off, playing tracks from all of her earlier works.
Photo by Daniel Jackson
Switching over to a blue guitar, Clark went deeper into the carefully curated set list to play "Birth In Reverse," which she performed with a backing track. She stepped offstage for a brief intermission, and unfortunately this brought talking from the crowd that stuck around throughout the rest of the evening.

When the curtains reopened, a large screen on the back wall housed a large image of the performer's face. When Clark returned, she stood on top of a small riser and launched into her latest album Masseduction almost in its entirety. Beginning with the opening track "Hang On Me," Clark seemed to be relaxed while the screen behind her changed colors while she played in front of it. Of course, when she went into "Pills," a special video played while she performed.

click to enlarge St. Vincent played her latest release completely from start to finish. - PHOTO BY DANIEL JACKSON
St. Vincent played her latest release completely from start to finish.
Photo by Daniel Jackson
This order continued as she tore through tracks like they fall on the record with "Masseduction," and then "Sugarboy," before she played in front of the official video for the track "Los Ageless." Introducing the song by asking, "you know this song, don't you Houston."   The softer and more tender track "Happy Birthday, Johnny," followed and she indulged the funkier side of "Savior". St. Vincent kept things heavy when performing "New York," while seeming to lighten up a bit on "Fear The Future."

She really got energetic and moved around when performing "Young Lover," before addressing the crowd afterward for the longest time since the show began. Stating "in a divided America, it's nice that a girl from Dallas and a room full of Houstonians can get together in peace and harmony."  She then launched into a sweet and tender version of "Slow Disco" before closing out the night with "Smoking Section," before the video screen stated "The End."

Clark made the performance all about the music and not much more. While the set was very similar to her one at Day For Night, it didn't mean that it wasn't as impactful. By keeping production minimal, and performing solo from beginning to end, St. Vincent proved that the music can often speak for itself.
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David Garrick is a former contributor to the Houston Press. His articles focus primarily on Houston music and Houston music events.