St. Vincent
The Sugar Club
Saturday 24th November 2007

st vincent annie clarke

This was St. Vincent, aka Annie Clarke, playing in one of the strangest venues in Dublin. Whelan's can be intimate, the Village has a cold charm, the Sugar Club can be a perpertual first date. Previously a cinema, located at ground level in a 1970s office block. All-seated, strange semi-booths, raked, the original wood strips on the walls.

I first saw her supporting Sufjan.

I was almost late. Had hung around town the entire afternoon. Tried to sell Finn's records but no-one wanted to play. Kept Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five for myself. Phil was interested in the RTE Sound Library disc for his brother.

Ate a bar for dinner. Sitting on the tracks. Train. Ran. Went in.

The crowd was polite. Too polite. I wandered around a little, then sat on the ledge beneath the front row of seats. Best view in the room.

Annie and the band came on. Everyone clapped politely. Annie, a violin, a bass, some drums. Cool subdued boys for a band. Good drummer - controlled, good fringe. The Bass and Violin helped with keys, as did Annie. Bass was a nice vintage thunker bass, played a tele too. Drums had a midi device to help with everything. They were a normal number of people, but they produced a unique and functional array of sounds.

Annie played electrics. One was the beautiful old red electric, the other a Gibson that she smashed out at the end of a song*. Sound was weird where I was, but the Sugar Club was so weird it really didn't matter.

The Sugar Club was weird. It was too polite. Wonderfully polite. Cut the air with a knife polite. Every song was played through, then punctuated with politeness. Annie would joke, people would laugh politely. Awkward date. The entire night.

One song finished, but no-one was sure it was over. Silence screaming in the air, Annie told us it was over. Everyone clapped politely.

There were some whistles and a few shouts, but nothing could quench the politeness.

It was a wonderful concert. The strange atmosphere clarified everything. Annie's voice sounded perfect, and her guitar playing was extremely good. Her playing was effortless, but complex. I was very impressed.

The concert ran through. She said goodbye, there was an encore (some Dig a Pony), then she said goodbye again. I stood up and thought about getting a setlist. I wanted someone from the stage to ok it. Reaching down beside pedals for a list seemed rude. Some other guy broke the ice and grabbed one. I pinched the violin list and hit the road.

Went to a party. Phil and Chicago Girl again. Drank Absinthe and Whiskey. Stayed out all night. Hollowed a little more.

*She didn't really smash it - they'd sent her the wrong guitar to smash. It was an SG.

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