Concert Review: St. Vincent, July 31, Sony Centre

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It’s impressive to see how much St. Vincent has progressed since she first played the Horseshoe just ten years ago. Perhaps one of the few truly unique artists in the music world today, every St. Vincent release has come with a different vision, theme and ultimately, live show. The anticipation for the live show on her Fear the Future tour was high and with good reason – her fifth album Masseduction is her most successful album, charting in the top 10 on Billboard.

I actually saw St. Vincent at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival two days prior to her Toronto show, so this review is kind of like an amalgamation of both. Since we just loooooove amalgamation here in Toronto, right?

The thing about St. Vincent shows are … they are shows. It’s a meticulously designed affair, where all the musicians are dressed a certain way, move a certain way and basically have to hit all the visual and lighting queues at the right time. Each song has a certain design and a certain look and as an audience, you are merely there to witness the spectacle. I think St. Vincent shows have been like this for awhile and this  contributes to the overall aesthetic of the band.

As you can see, this time around, the band was set up in a Kraftwerk-ish formation (according to Frank from Chromewaves, who still manages to post music news all the time) with Annie Clark on the far side of the stage. Most of the set consisted of them moving about in this confined space, with Annie occasionally doing that robot guitar player dance that she probably learned from David Byrne. Visually, it was really pretty but the distance from the crowd made me feel like there was a bit of an emotional disconnect between artist and people. St. Vincent has always been more of a technical concert vs an emotional one, and this one was no different I guess.

Soundwise, the music was great. Masseduction and her self titled album both elevated St. Vincent’s game in terms of production and crispness and it shows. New and old tracks like “Los Ageless”, “Pills”, “Digital Witness” and the recently redone “Fast Slow Disco” had the crowd moving. One could argue the crowd might have moved more with a rawer, more visceral, organic performance but it was the Sony Centre, so who knows.

The centrepiece of the set was a lovely version of “New York”, arguably one of St. Vincent’s best tracks, that came with some Toronto based ad-libbing that also finally provided some interaction between band and crowd. It was a nice movement before the hit single. Probably a highlight for most during the show. If you want more information on that show, I highly, highly recommend listening to the Song Exploder podcast for it.

All in all, this was my seventh time seeing St. Vincent, each time having been a totally different experience and for that, I am appreciative.

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts

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Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.