Welsh singer Cate Le Bon arrived on stage with most of it already taken up by St. Vincent instruments and gear, playing her set in front of the drums on the far left side of the stage. Her somber and short set drew out the Nico references on my Twitter feed, but was sometimes drowned out by the bar room chatter creeping in. Unfortunate, since it would have been nice to fully hear the voice that originally caught the attention of Super Furry Animals front man Gruff Rhys. With a new album due out in early 2012, hopefully we’ll get a chance to see Le Bon on tour again and hopefully in a more intimate environment.
In contrast to the low-key feel of Le Bon’s set, St. Vincent (Annie Clark) set out to annihilate with an engaging mix of demure grace and melt your face guitar freakouts. A backing band of three joined her onstage, and while no disrespect to them, the gaze of the crowd was solely transfixed on Clark that night. Song selection seemed to lean heavily on Strange Mercy, giving me a chance to get better acquainted with tracks like “Dilettante” and “Year of the Tiger” that I was less familiar with. Credit needs to be given to Team St. Vincent’s lighting design team, who nicely controlled the color to set the mood while still keeping Clark lit up with some gorgeously clean spotlights. During some of the heavier guitar moments, strobes blasted from the back, making me feel like I was dropped into a metal show. I recall leaving her last show at the Firebird super impressed, but I left this one absolutely dumbstruck in awe and I think the visual experience had something to do with taking this evening to another level.
We still have a few months to go and a ton more concerts to see, but I have a good feeling we’ll be revisiting this show when I compile my Top 10 concerts of 2011 list.
-Noted folks who travelled in that day from Arkansas and Indiana for the show. Dedicated.
-Guy next to me recognized Morning Glories by Nick Spencer being read on my iPhone. Comic nerding out ensued for a few minutes afterwards.
-Can I reiterate just how amazing her lighting was? For most shows at ORH, I’ll usually work primarily with prime lenses dropped to f1.4. With the front spotlights going, I spent most of the night comfortably around f3.5 just to make sure shots wouldn’t get blown out.