×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

David Byrne and St. Vincent

A warm, continually thrilling meeting of two kindred spirits.

When David Byrne and Annie Clark (who records as St. Vincent) first announced they were working on a collaborative album and tour, it was both unexpected and unsurprising. Though separated by a generation, Byrne and Clark are both blessed with similar degrees of nonchalant virtuosity, casual adventurousness, and occasional difficulty reconciling their substantial eccentricities with standard commercial songcraft. The latter attribute is pronounced on the twosome’s September album “Love This Giant,” but was nowhere in sight during their wonderful two-hour set at the Greek Theater, which showcased a warm, continually thrilling meeting of two kindred spirits.

That Byrne and Clark (60 and 30 years old, respectively) should display such effortless onstage chemistry was hardly a given. “Love This Giant” was composed over two years, with the ex-Talking Heads legend and current indie ingenue emailing song concepts back and forth, and at times it sounds like it, filled with intriguing individual ideas that don’t always cohere.

But during Saturday night’s show, the rough edges were ironed out brilliantly, and the two tackled nearly all of “Giant’s” tracks with calm mastery while also dipping into their respective catalogs. By the time the pair performed a song-long synchronized dance to Byrne’s “Lazy” mid-set, it was easy to imagine they’d spent years touring the casino circuit as the world’s weirdest father-daughter lounge act.

Surprisingly, that dance routine was one of many. Backed by an eight-piece brass band that remained in constant choreographed motion — circling the stage, mobbing the two headliners, lying down on cue — Clark and Byrne both indulged in some peculiar grooves. Byrne, sporting a wireless headset microphone, seemed eager to join the band in their drill squad routines during Clark’s turns on the mic. Meanwhile Clark — wearing an eye-catching cocktail dress — tittered across the stage with ballerina-style stutter steps, and at one point set down her guitar to break out a slow-motion robot dance.

If such frivolity seemed at odds with the dense, cerebral contrapuntalism of the songs on display, it nonetheless provided them with some welcome color. “I Am an Ape” and “Weekend in the Dust” were smoothed out into imminently danceable jams, “Lazarus” left hints of vintage Tom Tom Club pop, and the St. Vincent tune “Northern Lights” culminated with the two dueling over a shared theremin.

Though he clearly has the deeper discography of the two, Byrne was the most willing to cede center stage to his partner, and Clark for her part has rarely been in stronger voice, her cut-glass soprano reaching to the heavens on “Cruel,” then plumbing smokier depths on “Cheerleader.” (Her angular, eruptive electric guitar playing, however, was less pronounced than usual.)

Byrne, who long ago traded the typical rock and roll lifestyle for a cycling habit, seemed like a walking advertisement for clean living. Hearty, hale and handsome with his gleaming white blazer, suspenders and hair, his voice betrayed zero strains of age, and when he tore into “Strange Overtones,” his soft, plaintive, yet commanding register was a marvel to behold.

For its second encore, the band dusted off the Talking Heads classic “Road to Nowhere,” and Byrne and Clark took places with the band in a conga line that snaked around the stage, exchanging glances, smiles and giggles. Whereas so many male-female musical pairings have a sort of erotic or competitive charge, these two simply seemed to be sharing the same private joke throughout, and this made all the difference. Rather than the fickle winds of passion (or the hard calculations of synergistic marketing strategy), Byrne and Clark’s project was clearly born of creative curiosity and mutual admiration for one another’s art. The pop music world could use more partnerships like these, and more from this one as well.

David Byrne and St. Vincent

Greek Theater; 5,900 capacity; $75 top

Production: Presented by KCRW. Performers: David Byrne, Annie Clark, Daniel Mintseris, Brian Wolfe, Rachel Drehmann, Jason Disu, Kelly Pratt, Carter Yasutake, Dave Nelson, John Altieri, Bryan Murray, Jon Natchez. Reviewed Oct. 13, 2012.

More Music

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Attorney for Universal Music Artists Impacted by 2008 Fire Requests Inventory

    Following on its statements last week that it will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of several Universal Music recording artists impacted by a 2008 fire that destroyed a huge number of master recordings, a Los Angeles law firm has requested a “complete inventory” from the company. Addressed to UMG CEO and chairman Lucian Grainge, [...]

  • Charles Caldas To Step Down as

    Charles Caldas To Step Down as Merlin CEO

    Charles Caldas, the only CEO that the independent-label collective Merlin has ever known, announced today that he will step down from his post at the end of 2019, after more than 12 years at the helm of the global rights organization. He will continue his current duties until then and work with the Merlin board to [...]

  • XXXTentacion

    Watch a Trailer for New XXXTentacion Documentary

    A year to the day after rapper XXXTentacion was murdered, his estate has released a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the artist, which the announcement says is “releasing soon.” The clip, which includes narration from X himself, captures quick flashes of him reuniting with family and friends, engaging with fans, and working on music. In the [...]

  • Editorial Use OnlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Ed Sheeran Adds Cardi B, Bruno Mars, Khalid, Eminem, H.E.R. to 'Collaborations' List

    With less than a month to go, Ed Sheeran has uncensored his list of duet partners on the “No.6 Collaborations Project” album that’s due out July 12 and, not surprisingly, Justin Bieber is far from the only superstar in the bunch. It’s heavy on urban music giants, with Travis Scott, Khalid, Eminem, Cardi B, Chance [...]

  • Meek Mill, Future to Co-Headline on

    Meek Mill, Future to Co-Headline Late Summer Amphitheater Tour

    Hip-hop stars Meek Mill and Future have announced what they’re billing as a fall tour — even though, technically, most of the dates fall in the final weeks of summer — that will bring them to 24 cities across the country, mostly in outdoor amphitheaters. The co-headlining outing starts August 28 in St. Louis at [...]

  • Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Global indie-label collective Merlin reported record distributions in its 2019 membership report, paying $845 million to label and distributor members between April 2018 and March of this year. That figure, a 63% year-over-year increase, includes more than $130 million paid out this year from non-royalty income — and included in that figure is the estimated [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content