Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Saint Vincent Pabst Theater Milwaukee Review

Strange Mercy Saint Vincent

St. Vincent is early in her latest tour, and supporting the new Strange Mercy album. She stopped at the Pabst Theater last night, and I wondered if a Monday in Milwaukee would mean a sparse crowd. Yes, the balcony was closed off, but by the time that her opening act finished her set, the lower level was full. The lights went out, Annie Clark came out, and the crowd cheered her on before the first note filled the theater. The band opened with Cruel, and they played songs mostly from her new disk. They diverted along the way to play three tracks from The Actor, and a cover who's title escapes me at the moment. Backing Clark was a pair of keyboard players and a drummer. This was quite different from the last tour, where we were entertained by violin, keys, and a small woodwind assortment.

Strange Mercy has at least six solid songs on it, and I had no doubt that those tunes would carry over well in a live setting. What surprised me was how much I liked the softer, deeper tracks. The song Strange Mercy came across so much better live than what I have come to know on the disk. I also loved the short and sweet interactions that she put forth between songs. She left the crowd little to dwell upon but the music, and that makes her even more mysterious as a person. Once again, a few drunk males shouted out the usual "I love you" crap, but she played it off, if acknowledging them at all.

To me, the best part of the evening was her opening number during the encore. She came out and sang The Party with just keys backing her up. She revealed to the crowd an operatic vocal power that required her to back away from the microphone when she closed out the song. I will not soon forget that moment in the evening, as that alone was worth the price of admission.

Throughout the eventing, I did feel that she was holding back a bit on her solos, but still pulled them off well enough. I don't need convincing that she's got serious guitar chops; I just wish that she would have torn the heads off of those in the orchestra pit with at least one killer solo. My concert partner wished she would have played Paris is Burning, but alas it was not to be. Perhaps next time for both items on our list.

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