Concert ReviewsHot

Live Review: David Byrne & St. Vincent at The Chicago Theatre (9/18)

on September 19, 2012, 8:05am

cos byrne vincent 27 Live Review: David Byrne & St. Vincent at The Chicago Theatre (9/18)

We only have a few minutes, so try to be brief. Okay?

I’ll do absolutely anything you say.

Right. What did you think of the show?

That’s a big question. I’m afraid of big questions. I try to tackle smaller things — something more specific. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?

Yeah! How did the chemistry between David Byrne and Annie Clark, AKA St. Vincent, translate on-stage?

Very well. I was initially skeptical, namely because so much of Love This Giant pans back and forth between the two artists. However, right off the bat, Byrne and Clark gave credence to their partnership with just wonderful performances of the album’s first two tracks: “Who” and “Weekend In The Dust”.


The choreography on stage almost overwhelms the music, too. Those who’ve witnessed Byrne’s past tours are familiar with his more theatrical style, which feels part-vaudeville, part-operatic, and part-improv. With so many talented artists surrounding the two, and all that shiny, bulky brass, it’s just gorgeous to watch them line dance, two-step, or shuffle about whimsically.

cos byrne vincent 25 Live Review: David Byrne & St. Vincent at The Chicago Theatre (9/18)

Do Annie and David join in, too?

Absolutely. It’s a really special thing, seeing these two veterans — and I mean veterans with varying degrees of intensity — just let themselves go. While it’s well-worn territory for Byrne, who’s more or less the style’s auteur, it spotlights a more personable, comedic side to Clark. On her previous tour, supporting last year’s fabulous Strange Mercy, she was quite eccentric behind the guitar, shifting wildly, thrashing her head about, and even diving into the crowd sometimes. With Byrne, she’s a little more subdued now, aggressively speaking, but she’s doing different things. Before that proverbial curtain came crashing down — and I mean that metaphorically, Michael — she actually joined in a line dance for “Road to Nowhere”. It was like an island beach bonfire on acid.

I’ll bet! Now, you mentioned a Talking Heads song there. How’d those sound?

I’ll tell you later.

What about Annie’s songs?

Slightly more theatrical, thanks to Byrne and all that brass. On Love This Giant, Clark tends to hide in the background, injecting this quaking panic and unnerving instrumentation to most of Byrne’s tracks. The same thing happened to Clark’s own work on-stage. Songs like ”Marrow” or “Save Me From What I Want” were painted with this bright animated gloss that made each performance feel like something truly unique — like she was headlining a one-off gig at Radio City Music Hall or something regal like that. But, most of all, Byrne’s unpredictable stage presence really brought smiles during “Cheerleader”.

cos byrne vincent 21 Live Review: David Byrne & St. Vincent at The Chicago Theatre (9/18)

Why’s that?

Well, everyone except Clark just hit the ground. They stayed there for the entire song, performing on the floor, just like that. During the “I, I, I” part of the chorus, you could see Byrne lifting his head up rhythmically and staring out like some dazed zombie. Night of the Living David

Yikes! Sounds spooky.

It was really more funny than anything. So was the way he shared a theremin with Clark on “Northern Lights” or his short anecdote before “I Should Watch TV”. He told everyone about this this small television he bought once, and how he felt watching it religiously would help him understand the country he lived in. It didn’t help much, though.

That doesn’t sound very funny. 

Humor is different to other people, I guess.

cos byrne vincent 22 Live Review: David Byrne & St. Vincent at The Chicago Theatre (9/18)

*coughs* What about David’s stuff?

I’ll always miss the lamp during “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”, but I’ll never forget that song, either. Clark’s vocals really add some depth to an already abyssal chorus of harmonies, too. Much later, a singalong rendition of “Burning Down the House” made some fans smile, and that’s always a nice thing, but I was pretty happy early on when Byrne decided to revisit some more recent stuff like “Strange Overtones”.

What makes you like that one?

The mood.

Right. Michael, if I gave you $50 right now, what would you do with it?

I’ll tell you later.

*snore* What do you think will happen post-tour?

I’ll tell you later.

Photography by Heather Kaplan.

Weekend In The Dust
Save Me From What I Want
Strange Overtones
I Am An Ape
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)
The Forest Awakes
Like Humans Do
I Should Watch TV
Northern Lights
The One Who Broke Your Heart
Outside Of Space & Time
Burning Down The House
Encore 2:
The Party
Road To Nowhere

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October 6, 2012 at 2:55 am

Just saw the show at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin. I was overwhelmed with the originality of the “music in motion” concert presentation. Let’s be clear….it is not a Talking Heads show. With that said the music was GREAT!! Loved the bass brass sound and the convergance of the David and Annie styles. It was very original. Everyone stood for the last two encores. @b7d5173d8f59533758efe18419b9e190:disqus Do you mean by “most of us” those who still use pagers?? Broaden your horizons..David did!!

John S
September 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I left completely underwhelmed by this show. Some of the new music was good but the volume of St Vincent music and the lack of volume of Talking Heads music ruined this show for me. Face it, until David sang “naive melody” the crowd was sitting. The only time the crowd truly stood and danced was during “lazy”, “burning down the house”, and “road to nowhere”. Now, those are decent songs, but lame in the deep catalogue of Talking Heads music. David may not want to look back with nostalgia at the Talking Heads era, but face it, most of us have no interest in this new crap……

September 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm

If you have no interest in that crap you really shouldn’t go to these shows. It’s very easy.

Rory Biller
September 21, 2012 at 2:39 am

Ignore this comment. Love This Giant has some great tunes on it. They show was fun, quirky, and even cheesy at times, but far from underwhelming. The audience ate of every moment of it in Toronto tonight.

September 21, 2012 at 3:24 am

i was standing the whole time!! i had a fantastic evening. I do wish more people were standing though throughout the show i think david and annie would have responded well to that.


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