After bringing the songs of Masseduction to fans via her lights-and-electronics heavy Fear the Future Tour, St. Vincent shared the stripped-down versions of those songs (found on MassEducation) at an intimate concert at Brooklyn Academy of Music on Tuesday (Nov. 20) night.
Accompanied by pianist/BFF Thomas Bartlett and a glass of tequila, Annie Clark made it clear from the outset this was a more casual St. Vincent concert than what we’ve seen in the past. Greeted by a sea of applause when she took the stage, Clark turned to the audience and deadpanned, “Without being reductive, I’d like to say we haven’t done anything yet.”
When they did start (with an impassioned cover of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” – easy way to win over an NYC crowd), Clark and Bartlett more than earned that pre-show applause. Bartlett’s fluid fingers alternately teased and attacked the ivories, putting piercing staccato notes at the end of “Savior” and emphasizing the loud-quiet-loud dynamic of “Los Ageless.”
Clark credited Bartlett with helping introduce her to “downtown queer New York City” when she met him 10-or-so years prior, and her affection for her friend (who only recently became her musical collaborator) spilled over into her warm stage demeanor. Whether joking with Bartlett (“Did I write this song bro?” she asked when he started playing a song she didn’t immediately recognize), calling her silver Gucci heels “Gooch” or explaining to the audience she spent much of the lubed-up “Slow Disco” video shoot worrying about “crushing a cock” with her heels during the orgy shots, St. Vincent was unusually unguarded and hysterically blunt.
Two stories stood out in particular: Her recollection of whacking grabby fans with a microphone in a hot rage after an attempt at moshing turned into an unwanted groping session (“I’m not proud of that moment,” she assured the crowd), and her memory of trying to explain the death of a beloved dog to her younger brother, only to have him ask if the late black lab “died on the cross like Jesus” (which inspired “I Prefer Your Love” on her self-titled).
But the best moment might’ve been just before a fragile run-through of “Smoking Section.” Although she was fully committed to the emotionally devastating lyric while performing it, she couldn’t resist a bit of self-effacement prior to diving in: “Here’s another real fucking toe-tapper.”
Whether you prefer the amped up or toned down versions of her most recent songs, one thing was clear after her BAM gig: Hearing Clark deliver these songs with just a piano and some poker-face jokes makes for one of the most satisfying St. Vincent concerts you’re likely to ever see.