A little over a year ago David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark released Love This Giant, a collaborative art-rock effort resulting from a jam session that heavily featured brass to give weight to its creators’ idiosyncratic and brilliant visions. Transferring the record to a live setting was always going to be a challenge, but thanks to Bryne and Clark’s melded mind it proves to be more than your standard gig – in tow with a piece of theatre.
The Roundhouse seems like the perfect venue for this act; Byrne has previous experience here having turned the main room into a musical instrument that anyone could play a few years back. Like that little experiment, tonight is all about equality as all onstage contribute to the show: a large brass band, drummer and keyboardist aid the two stalwarts of art rock, with a simple white backdrop with ever changing puppet-like shadows prevalent throughout the show.
Opening with ‘Who’ from Love This Giant, most gathered are clearly more in awe of the fact that David Byrne is a few metres from where they stand, laced up in a dark jacket with an acoustic guitar and head mic. Clark is bleached blonde, floating across stage with her guitar like an overpowered robot. The showmanship is not limited to these two though, as the brass band marches, circles and scatters across the stage like a gathering in a forest.
The theatrics aside, the songs on Love This Giant shine just as brightly as songs from both Byrne’s solo career and Talking Heads days and Clark’s back catalogue. ‘Naïve Melody’ gets the first real cheer of the evening, and tunes such as the experimentally anxious ‘I Should Watch TV’ stand up well next to the brass disco rework of Byrne’s hit with X-Press 2, ‘Lazy’ and Clark’s empowering ‘Northern Lights’. A euphoric rework of ‘Wild Wild Life’ from Talking Heads’ penultimate album True Stories is a show highlight, bringing a pure connection between the artists and audience members amidst the more cerebral numbers. The brass adds so much to these familiar tunes, creating both a sense of enjoyability and wonder.
But humanity ultimately shines through the showmanship, with the assembled in quiet admiration throughout the evening; also gushing is Clark, who pays tribute to Byrne’s influence towards the end. Despite the diversity in the material, it all flawlessly fits together and Byrne and Clark can give themselves a pat on the back, for the perfect experimental pop partnership has produced one brilliant album and a mesmerizingly perfect show.