St. Vincent played House of Blues – 11/30

Annie Clark returned to Boston as St. Vincent for her first headlining show since 2014, unveiling her exquisitely artful “Fear the Future” show in support of this year’s MASSEDUCTION

MASSEDUCTION is Clark’s fifth full-length under the St. Vincent moniker, and her boldest work yet. The record brings the simmering sexual and psychological turmoil that’s always lurked in Clark’s songwriting to the forefront like never before, with electro-art-pop arrangements that stray far from the project’s roots. Clark was essentially fronting a rock band called St. Vincent once upon a time, but with MASSEDUCTION, those days feel far off in the rear-view.

The “Fear the Future” tour – a radical departure from St. Vincent’s previous on-stage incarnations – acknowledges as much, consciously dividing its chronological setlist into two distinct acts. Clark first emerged from a curtain at the far left of the stage at the show’s start to perform her 2007 debut Marry Me‘s title track. As the curtain slowly pulled sideways to reveal the gaping mouth of some circus monster at stage-rear (see below), she touched on each of her first four releases, one by one, lit by blue-purple glow and Lynchian strobes. After a brief set and costume change, Clark re-emerged to play MASSEDUCTION front to back, this time with neon-bright video visuals to match the album’s sensory-overload sound.

Clark and her guitar stood unaccompanied the whole night, trading in the full-band feel of previous tours for a carefully choreographed solo show that was all the more impressive for being such. I’ve seen Clark tour every St. Vincent record since 2009’s Actor, and this was her most stunning feat yet. It felt like the full realization of the performance art angle of the project hinted at in 2014’s “Digital Witness” shows or 2013’s David Byrne collaborations. Clark’s decision to forego a touring band in favor of backing tracks and her own star power seems to have been a point of contention for some, but it worked beautifully in Boston.

It goes without saying from the images (I hope) that it was a marvelous performance to capture from a photographic perspective as well. Every couple of months there’s a show that really reminds me why I dedicate so much time and effort to shooting live music, and this was certainly one of them.

I photographed last week’s show for The Boston Globe, and a full gallery my selects is below: