Fresh off her Best Rock Song Grammy win (and excellent performance with Dua Lipa), St. Vincent spent Valentines Day at Lincoln Center's gorgeous, scenic Appel Room for an intimate 'American Songbook' show. She was accompanied only by Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman), her collaborator on MASSEDUCTION rework MassEducation, on grand piano and stomping percussion for a stripped-down show, similar to the ones they've done together at BAM and Newport Folk Festival.
The Appel Room looks out over Columbus Circle and Central Park, and Annie Clark commented on the view a few times, noting once that she could see that [insert made up number] dollar penthouse and "an incredible CVS where I bet they have the fucking sickest Claritin display"
With a nod towards Valentines Day, Annie had a heart-shaped box of Russell Stover chocolate, filled with song titles on slips of paper. Commenting that this would be as "if Russian Roulette was truly fun for people," she proceeded to select (and disgard) songs, expressing disdain for the process and eventually ignoring the box altogether, saying, "I tried chance and I didn't like it." Annie also speculated that attendees might celebrate the day later that evening: "sit romantically in your bed later. A little Postmates. A little Pornhub. 46 seconds later, lights out."
She frequently bantered with Doveman between songs, going on random tangents. When Barlett leaned over the piano and his stomach pressed the keys, St. Vincent said his "belly accidentally playing music is like, John Cage's wet dream" (Doveman replied he went mushrooming with Cage at age six). Later on, something Doveman played was reminiscent of the Goonies music and the two had fun repeating that strain over and over for a few minutes. Another anecdote involved Annie visiting a "vegan-adjacent" restaurant and thinking she was being offered her a free meal because of her celebrity -- Clark tried to pay and was told she didn't pay "here" after being recognized -- but she had to pay "over there" instead.
With the loose banter and extended songs, the performance felt uninhibited (it stretched beyond 90 minutes including the encore) and in the venue, the music soared, beginning with a cover of Steely Dan's "Dirty Work." "Los Ageless", like a few others, ended with Doveman's gorgeous twinkling keys while "Cheerleader" was interrupted by a detour into music that sounded as if it was from Eyes Wide Shut that Clark sort of freestyled over. "New York" was a tremendous closer to the main set, especially with the pain that seemed to rise and fade in Clark's voice when she sang "I have lost a hero / I have lost a friend / but for you darling / I'll do it all again." She returned to wish everyone a happy Valentine's Day and for "Smoking Section," the encore.
Check out a couple of videos from Thursday night's show, and the setlist, below.
Setlist: St. Vincent & Doveman at The Appel Room, 2/14/2019
Dirty Work (Steely Dan cover)
Fear the Future
Happy Birthday, Johnny