Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Live review: David Byrne and St. Vincent @ Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 29th August

The suit’s closer fitting and his hair’s long silvered over, but otherwise the David Byrne standing on the Concert Hall’s stage tonight is recognisably the same odd-edged entertainer captured in Stop Making Sense. To his left, Annie Clark aka St. Vincent rocks her own lightened barnet and the two artists – along with their 8-piece brass section – shimmy through their set locked together in a loose choreography. After almost a full year touring their collaborative LP Love This Giant, it’s clear that the duo is very much in sync.

At times, the band’s co-ordinated movements resemble penny-in-the-slot mechanicals, a toy-box aura accentuated by Clark’s sugar plum fairy tiptoeing. At other times, the mood is looser and carnivalesque, as the brass parade with theatrical (but nevertheless genuine) joy. The latter is most keenly felt during a jubilant Wild Wild Life – one of four Talking Heads songs peppering the set. A more extensive revisit to Byrne’s former band would, of course, have been welcomed with open arms, but imposing a limit makes sense, ensuring the thrill of hearing the likes of This Must Be the Place doesn’t overshadow the other riches on offer – ranging from later Byrne cuts (including a stunning Strange Overtones) to the solo work of his esteemed colleague.

It takes rare talent and personality to stand beside someone of Byrne’s stature and command equal share of the spotlight, but the uneclipsable Clark proves fully capable. Her comparatively young back catalogue is visited just as often as Byrne’s and produces its share of highlights – Cheerleader, for instance, has never sounded grander, while Marrow bristles with tension. But it’s Love This Giant that naturally sits central to tonight’s performance – not only because it supplies a large chunk of the setlist, but because all the other diversely-sourced songs have been retrofitted to its horn-led aesthetic, making thirty years of art-pop ventures sit together neatly. From the opening Who (showcasing Clark’s vocal talents) to the daft delights of I Am An Ape (in which we get a welcome taste of Byrne’s nifty footwork), the material sounds more vibrant than on record and begs for a sequel – not only to see where their twinned muses venture next, but so that we have another opportunity to take in their superlative live show.

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