St. Vincent @ The Opera House, Cork


It’s a quiet, damp Monday evening in Cork City when St Vincent aka Annie Clark and her merry crew roll into town with their highly stylised, bombastic stage show, however the Texan act very quickly brighten up the hearts and imaginations of their crowd.

First off, Cork natives Young Wonder warm up the audience with their indie-electronica hybrid. Despite the band’s best efforts to engage their audience – the phrase ‘make some noise!’ is thrown about far too often for such a short set – the crowd is very much there for St Vincent and St Vincent alone. Closing with set highlight To You, the group put on a pleasant show but their own admittance that the quietness of the crowd freaks them out is symptomatic of a performance lacking in confidence.

Confidence is the key ingredient in the wonderful recipe that is St Vincent’s live show. From the opener of the band and her bright pink platform being ushered on stage from the atmospheric shadows to the closing moments of Clark catapulting herself and her guitar into the arms of her fans, the audience is mesmerised by a performance that few artists would have the courage and assurance to pull off. Moves such as lying out across the stage whilst singing and being wheeled on to the encore in a dramatic, gothic deathbed scene ensure a show full of highlights and reference points. In an indie scene saturated with men in flannel shirts who constantly look like they’ve spotted something interesting on their Converse throughout live sets, the drama and effort is a breath of fresh air.

But theatricals and stage presence can only do so much for a musician and what makes St Vincent truly stand out is an illustriously fresh sound. Opening with Birth In Reverse, the house is filled with an instant sense of fun and a desire to dance. Kudos to the band and the venue as a whole, the sound is absolutely perfect. Every flamboyant turn of Clark’s versatile vocals, each impressive guitar riff and funky beat bounces around the venue sounding brighter and cleaner than any studio performance could hope for. St Vincent opts to leave off any new material but the dynamic trip through her back catalogue more than makes up for it. Audience favourites such as Cheerleader and Rattlesnake are more invigorating than ever before with almost all of the crowd mouthing along in awe at the spectacle before them. Cruel and Digital Witness are particular highlights but there’s very little faultable about the musical performance at all. Older cuts such as Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood and The Party play a role as the slower companions to her newer, more frenzied work and serve as a reminder as to what a versatile musician Clark really is.

There’s something inexplicably empowering about St Vincent’s presence. At the end of the day, she is a highly polished act with pop smarts – the coordinated dances, the over-dramatic actions, the floor-filler pop songs but unlike most other acts with those tendencies, St Vincent has the ability to make it seem like she’s singing directly to her fans. Even her somewhat corny chat about wanting to steal Lion bars from Topaz and flying with pizza boxes seems impressive in the context of a show that feels like living in a different dimension for a little while. Her precise professionalism is bolstered by the fact that it’s very easy to see that she loves what she’s doing, the dramatic turns are carried out with a sense of fun and outstanding charisma – in an age where music is becoming more of quick fix and icons with a dedicated following are becoming less common, Annie Clark is the embodiment of a true rock star.

And with that, it’s all over and the crowd spill out on to the damp Cork streets, shrouded in something more magical than most rock shows have the ability to create and more than slightly considering paying Bus Eireann to follow the band to Galway. Despite St Vincent’s opening lyric, today is anything but an ordinary day, it’s one to remember for a long time to come. Kelly Doherty