St. Vincent / Arc Iris @ O2 ABC, Glasgow, 26 August
Both musically and visually, Arc Iris are a colourful affair. Catsuited and rainbow-eyed, former Low Anthem member Jocie Adams delivers her baroque compositions on piano, guitar and clarinet, interweaving glissading vocal melodies with the virtuoso technique of pianist Zach Miller (the only other member present for the tour). Even in stripped-back form, their ornate style borders ostentatiousness, but the quantity of ideas and immensity of musical talent is impressive.
When the lights darken and it comes time for St. Vincent to walk onstage, she doesn’t simply walk. Oh no. She judders stiffly like a robot, twisting her limbs and jolting her neck; an arresting choreography soundtracked by Rattlesnake’s squelching intro. The entrance sets a theatrical standard for tonight’s entertainment, which is predominantly comprised of this year’s self-titled fourth album. When Annie Clark subsequently stipulates “I want all of your mind” on Digital Witness, there’s damn little anyone in the room can do to resist.
What her physical performance lacks in spontaneity and warmth it more than gains back in spectacle and singularity, with Clark proving a magnetic presence. Only a couple of overripe monologues threaten to over-do the mannerisms; the music’s eccentricities, by comparison, feel effortless and unforced.
As well as numerous highlights from St. Vincent – the charging rhythms of Birth in Reverse, the thunderous riffs that close Huey Norton, the candid beauty of I Prefer Your Love – earlier tracks are given minor makeovers and neatly integrated, culminating in a noisily extended Your Lips Are Red in the encore.
Earlier, the stacked blocks at the rear of the stage – atop which Clark belted an ear-splitting Cheerleader, and from which she slowly crumpled at the close of Prince Johnny – seemed like straightforward props. By the time the last peals of feedback are silenced, you’re reminded (as per St. Vincent’s cover art) of their true purpose: a throne, on which to coronate St. Vincent’s ongoing ascent.