Annie Clark with her excellent four piece band arrives on a Friday night in a sold out, hot and sweaty SWX in Bristol city centre for the first European show of the 'All Born Screaming' tour. 

 Annie's only visible in silhouette through a fog of smoke and backlit white lighting for the majority of opener 'Reckless'; as the track crashes into the repeated outro passage the lighting switches to intense white spotlights, she's spat her gum into the audience “ calling for me , calling for me, calling for me ...”   Using the first of a range of her St.Vincent signature guitars Annie's playing the whammy bar heavy intro to 'Fear The Future ' , this version of the touring band means that the arrangements for tonight are going to be full-on, guitar-heavy with Annie and second guitarist Jason Falkner weaving around each other strangling the solo out of their instruments. 

The thick, bass beats of recent single 'Big Time Nothing ' provided by the rhythm section of bassist Charlotte Kemp Muhl and drummer Marc Guiliana feel a perfect fit for the atmosphere of the venue which a friendly local tells me used to be a nightclub. The dancey, night-clubbing vibe continues during 'Digital Witness' with Rachel Eckroth's keyboards providing the main riff in the song. 

In  a recent conversation Annie said she felt that audience enthusiasm for the new album tracks was greater than she had previously experienced . Bristol proves no exception during the call and response interplay in 'Flea',   “ I got it …. I got it” , or during 'Broken Man' with the audience shouting “Hey, What are you looking at ? Who the hell do you think I am ? “ as Annie screams into the bright, pink lipstick-smeared mic which she had just accidently dislodged from its stand and picked off the floor. 

A 2012 Record Store Day release 'Krokodil' is a perfect fit for the current band and musical arrangements which allows Annie to prowl around the stage spitting out the lyrics. With the help of the security staff she's standing on the crowd control barrier, neatly spins 180 degrees and drops into the audience. Bobbing like a boat on stormy sea we either see her white shirt and jet black hair, or a pair of legs and black, leather ankle boots all whilst she's still singing “ I need to bite. Sweet Krokodil -ill-ill-ill” , after a scramble back onto stage, crawling across the floor and ending the track on the underneath Charlotte.

“Can we talk about Bristol music ??” Annie asks the audience “ Portishead.... Tricky... The Sundays.... Idles …. Fucking Massive Attack!!”  each band of course getting cheers from the local-ish audience. “There's something in the fucking water.” 

Watching Annie's finger's flying across her fretboard in 'Surgeon' demonstrates why in 2023 Rolling Stone magazine voted her 26th in their list of greatest guitarists of all time. This tour's arrangement of 'Sugarboy' has an extended ending allowing more guitar duelling between Annie and Jason.       The longest and most musically diverse track on 'All Born Screaming' is the title track which starts with a reggae feel, midway through the percussion takes over as the white, pulsing lights and smoke  floods the stage to a heavy dance beat with the band repeating the title over and over like a celestial choir until only their vocals remain, the lights cut out, the stage goes dark and the show is over. 

Nick Cave sang that Dylan Thomas died in Manhattan's St Vincent's hospital (from which Annie has said she took her stage name). Tonight , free from stage costumes, personae or disguises St Vincent appears reborn and she looks like she's having fun.  A stunning show.

Alisdair Whyte