Annie Clark (St Vincent's real name) is a divisive, imaginatinive and slightly challenging musician. She always evolves her style from album to album, never resting on her laurels and her list of collaborations speak to her constant search for something new to try musically, but the album that this tour supported, Daddy's Home, had seen her take a turn, both musically and visually, that didn't really appeal to me.
Equally, that Glastonbury performance, a few days before Hammersmith, wasn't something I found enjoyable. Her band gurned and performed '70s glam rock poses, while the sound (and maybe even the arrangements) was muddled and a little, dare I say it, indulgent.
Still, I had a ticket and maybe that Glastonbury set wasn't the right way to judge her performance.
I arrived at Hammersmith in plenty of time, but decided not to join the long queue outside, waiting until it had died down somewhat.
The support act, whose name I have completely forgotten now, was a self-proclaimed 'Black, feminist, Punk Band', formed of 4 women (I think, one, on keyboards, was permanently hidden from my sight, by the front-and-centre drummer, who seemed to be the band leader, but not singer).
The singer was on guitar and looked not unlike the Activist character from TV series 'Outlaws', while on the other side of the stage was a tall woman on Bass.
Their overall sound was OK, except that it was impossible to hear what the singer was singing or even saying, although from the Drummer's comments I imagine most of it was their self-proclamation and various complaints about Black under-representation in Punk and the Roe Vs Wade decision in the US (Both worthy of discussion, at the very least, but I didn't really come along for a political rally).
One or two tunes were OK, but I can't say I'd bother to track them down.
After the inevitable delay while the stage was re-arranged, St Vincent (and her band or is that Annie and her band, St Vincent?) appeared on stage around 9PM to the strains of the old Shep & The Limelites track "Daddy's Home".
I must admit I don't recall the exact order of tracks, so I'm relying on the setlist from Setlist.fm.
However, it was somewhat reassuring (to me) that the set started with a classic St Vincent track, Digital Witness, indicating that we weren't in for a solely 'new material' set.
Obviously there were tracks from the new album, the second being "Down" from it, but the well known tracks, Birth in Reverse, Fast Slow Disco, New York, Cheerleader and Los Ageless were all there.
Los Ageless was especially majestic, I often feel it's too short when I play it and I wished it could have gone on for 10 minutes or more at Hammersmith.
So, did I enjoy St Vincent at Hammersmith?
Yes, very much.
The band (possibly responding to critcism of Glastonbury, or maybe just less under the influence of something?) were less histrionic and self-indulgent and the sound balance was far better in the Apollo than it had been on the TV coverage of Glastonbury.
I can't say I find St Vincent's current 'image' very appealing (She looks like a waitress from an episode of Starsky and Hutch), but no worries, it'll be different for the next album, you can rely on that, and the music will take a different direction, too.
However, that was soon forgotten as the classic songs were performed and even the new ones sounded better live.
The main set rounded out with "Fear of the Future" and the inevitable encore featured 3 lesser known tracks, rounding out with The Melting Of The Sun from the Daddy's Home album.
I headed back to Richmond where I'd parked on the night bus (The Tube having closed due to rail issues) happy with my evening.
Glastonbury had definitely left me wondering, but an evening with St Vincent at Hammersmith had restored my faith, she (and her band) were great entertainment and I shall look forward to the next iteration of St Vincent with interest.
Birth in Reverse
Down and Out Downtown
...At the Holiday Party
Fast Slow Disco
Pay Your Way in Pain
Year of the Tiger
Fear the Future
Your Lips Are Red
Live in the Dream
The Melting of the Sun
EDIT : I found a bit of video from the Manchester gig on this tour on YouTube