Massive praise for Annie Clark's concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire

Annie Clark and her band’s date at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Monday, February 27th is their biggest UK gig to date. The prospect in playing this larger venue thankfully does nothing to subdue the performance, and given Clark’s undoubted onstage charisma, one does not anticipate size ever being a problem.

The set draws heavily on her lauded, most-recent record, Strange Mercy, an album she wrote in 2010 – The Year Of The Tiger – a year she describes on stage as one that "bummed" her out. Witnessing someone lick their wounds and then exhibiting it as art is often regrettable for all concerned, though Clark is smarter than that, and Strange Mercy got the balance of introspection and abstraction just right, subverting and sometimes unsettling, turning the idea of the all-American girl on its head and into something positive. While the writing experience might have been a bleak one, live it transcends

sorrow to become something entirely celebratory.

Dressed head-to-toe in black, the plaintive and preoccupied Clark of a few years ago has been replaced by a more playful and extroverted character, who looks ever more like an artist who commands to be observed in her natural environment, on stage. Strange Mercy writ large is a more funk-strewn, audacious beast than on record, and on opener ‘Surgeon’, the scything and peripatetic Moog is ably supplanted by Clark’s own dexterous fretwork. While her voice is astonishing, and no more so than on ‘The Party’ which makes up part of the encore, it’s her guitar playing that truly dumbfounds. In fact Clark’s ability to sing

and play frenetically at the same time is a rare gift, and it creates a dialogue that is at times discombobulating and always nothing short of immensely impressive. She also switches cleverly where needed from pulsating bass to deft jazz chords, a bustling workload that is belied by her comfortable poise.

It’s a bravura display of showmanship and virtuosity, and while many have tried and failed to land all too predictable comparisons, it is perhaps with some trepidation that I say that her nearest living contemporary is Minnesota’s own purple pioneer, Prince. Irrepressible and seemingly talented beyond any limits at this point, her star is in the ascendency and it’ll be thrilling to watch the next few years unfold. She takes to the crowd during show closer ‘Your Lips Are Red’, still striking her guitar as anonymous arms prod and propulse her, her Cuban heels shimmying in the air. Even at the mercy of strangers beneath her, she somehow maintains control.

St Vincent Setlist



‘Chloe In The Afternoon’

‘Save Me From What I Want’

‘Actor Out Of Work’


‘Black Rainbow’


‘Champagne Year’

‘Neutered Fruit’

‘Strange Mercy’


‘She Is Beyond Good And Evil’ (Pop Group cover)

‘Northern Lights’

‘Year Of The Tiger’

— encore —

‘The Party’

‘Your Lips Are Red’

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