Live Review: David Byrne and St. Vincent
David Byrne’s recent book is all about the context in which music happens. Last night, Byrne and St. Vincent brought a terrific show to the Meyerhoff–a far cry from the Marble Bar–as part of the third installment of their Love This Giant tour. The two collaborators, backed by an impressive brass band, played much of the album which came out last September, as well as a number of songs from their respective catalogs.
It’s easy to see why the collaboration works. Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and Byrne complement each other across the board. As songwriters, the duo created a slew of unique and catchy songs. The introduction of the brass instruments adds a rich layer, masterfully arranged, that makes you glad to hear so many physical instruments being played by real people in music again. And Byrne and Clark, both seasoned lyricists and singers, deliver the vox on top to create an epic feeling.
As performers, both employed a distinct economy of movement. The aging Byrne knows exactly how to use his body, whether leaning back and forth with the band, laying on the floor and peeping his head up while backing up Clark’s vocals, or jumping around with his guitar. Clark, gazing earnestly at the audience, took on a number of stances as she displayed her impressive vocal range. Grounded to the floor, she used smooth, isolated arm movements with the music. At times she would Bourrée across the stage in her heels like a ballerina, or wile out on her guitar. The brass players waltzed around them in choreographed formations, adding to the play.
Though the Meyerhoff may not be as showy as Manhattan’s historic Beacon Theatre, where I saw them last fall, being home in Baltimore for the experience was special in it’s own way. Byrne gave a shout out to his “fellow Baltimoron” Phillip Glass, and shared with the audience a performance of “Open the Kingdom,” a song from Glass’s 1986 Songs From Liquid Days, for which Byrne penned the lyrics. We hope that the experience made Byrne want to come back to Mobtown for more.