St Vincent, Roundhouse, gig review: Brilliant

Her stories keep spinning weirdly, sardonically out of control

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The Independent Culture

Annie Clark weaves a series of partially ad-libbed anecdotes through tonight’s gig, seemingly trying to foster a sense of empathy with her audience of “the freaks and outsiders of London”, but the stories keep spinning weirdly, sardonically out of control.

Remember when you made wings out of pizza boxes and tried to fly until your knees bled? Remember when you tried to light a fire with a magnifying glass and burned down your whole neighbourhood?

Her songs, too, have the initial appearance of friendliness, but unsettle with uneasy rhythms, structural left turns and eruptions of her funky, squalling guitar.

We’re in the uncanny valley - it’s //like// a rock song, but just not quite… normal. She and multi-instrumentalist Toko Yasuda mirror the mood in tippytoed automaton dances, exchanging places like clockwork figures.

The tricksily brilliant likes of ‘Digital Witness’ and ‘Birth In Reverse’ run the mind delightedly ragged, but soothing contrast comes with the luscious ‘Prince Johnny’ and with ‘I Prefer Your Love’ and a commanding ‘Cheerleader’, delivered from atop the three-tier platform that dominates the bare stage set, Clark rolling down like a ragdoll through noise and harsh strobes: David Lynch does Busby Berkeley. It’s //like// a rock gig… but better.