Monday, October 8, 2012
Concert review: David Byrne and St. Vincent deliver roaring performance in Dallas
An uncommon pairing made for one of the best performances of the year.
DALLAS Captivating singer and Dallasite St. Vincent and Talking Heads frontman David Byrne make for an unlikely duo, but their Dallas show together Sunday night was brilliant. The evening was filled with an energetic horn section and cherished moments of musical magic, including an entertaining dancing solo and a hectic performance with the theremin from both Byrne and Clark.
The two debuted a rather thrilling album titled Love This Giant in September, which spurred a 24-stop national tour to show off their angular record in a live setting. With a full horn section and a stage with enough legroom, the stylistic pair performed a live show that showed off each musicians' talents in an unlikely setting.
They used SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium’s theatrical space to its full capacity, filling the corners with percussion and spreading the 8-piece horn section as if they were in a play. The entire performance mirrored a dramatic number: The band members, including Byrne, bustled about the stage in organized patterns, choreographed with each track. Annie Clark (St. Vincent is her stage name) delivered a softer vocal tone and jagged electric guitar components to Byrne’s boundary-erasing approach without overstepping or hugely altering the former Talking Heads front man’s vision, making for a natural and refreshing partnership that’s uncommon today.
Filled with a satisfying combination of tracks from their beat-heavy collaborative project and their own material, the set list encompassed a nice variety while utilizing their brass section at all times. Tracks like St. Vincent’s “Cheerleader” and the Talking Head’s “This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)” were injected with a robustness spilling out from exclamations of the trumpet and trombone. Although the band’s continued structured formations and rotations distracted from the duo’s musical performance more often than not, it was as if the musicality was designed with a live setting in mind. They used aspects of the venue in their favor: Colored lights stopped and started at a heart beat’s pace, casting giant shadows of the artists on the blank backdrop, adding a further dramatic flair to the production.
While Clark stayed near her standing mic, Byrne wore a cheek mic so he could easily move in robotic motions along with the band. Their vocal harmony came to life during Byrne’s “Strange Overtones,” Clark’s high-pitched reach sat securely behind Byrne’s deep, structured tone. A natural chemistry was apparent, with no awkward pauses or overstepping from either artist, which helped merge both of their audiences in an unpredictable and harmonious way. A double encore encouraged the enthusiastic crowd with songs like “Cruel” and “Burning Down the House.” Clark thanked her hometown crowd and mentioned a 4-year old family member who was in the audience. She said she can remember seeing Byrne for the first time when she was 4, saying she would never have imagined she’d be sharing the stage with him as an adult.
Clark earned her spot on the stage, adding her textured, outside-of-the-lines touch to Byrne’s avant-garde taste. Although they can both hold their own, together they can continue to make the musical history Byrne created.