Live Report: St. Vincent – Brixton Academy, London

Annie Clark ditches her band for a soulless, substandard karaoke set...

For years I have been desperate to catch St. Vincent live.

Arguably one of the greatest musicians of her generation, she is one of the few performers who could seriously be considered as the heir to Bowie's chameleon-like mantle. So I was incredibly excited to see her for the first time in Brixton. I'd been watching old live videos and marvelling at her unparalleled ability as a singer, guitarist and frontwoman, putting her albums on repeat like a teenage fanboy.

Never in my adult life have I been so cripplingly let down. I understand that her latest record ‘MASSEDUCTION’ fetishises vapidity and celebrity egotism, but is that a good enough excuse to swap a highly talented band for a few curtains and a crappy drum machine-led backing track?

The old material she opened with was particularly ill-served, coming off as little more than amped-up karaoke. The new tracks fitted the stylised performance better, but they still sounded as plastic and disposable as a pair of latex gloves.

Doubtless many of the reviews of this tour will be glowing, written by starry-eyed critics seduced by her excellent press tour and music videos, unable to admit the fact that the Empress has no clothes on, convinced that this is capitalised-'a' Art. But art isn't meant to be hollow, it’s meant to connect on at least some emotional level. And tonight simply didn't.

I've always refuted friends’ claims that St Vincent is all style and no substance, but it feels right to admit that last night was a failure on both counts. If anyone else attempted this they would no doubt be ridiculed, and rightly so.

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Words: Josh Gray

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