David Byrne and St. Vincent's two-hour performance in the cavernous church Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste on the Plateau-Mont-Royal was an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Talking Heads frontman and all-around cool guy teamed up with graceful yet hardcore rocker beauty Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) for their recent collaborative album Love This Giant, and performed those songs, as well as favourites from their own catalogues, delivered via an eight-piece brass band, as well as St. Vincent's touring keyboardist, some ratting percussion and Clark's inimitable guitar work.
Starting off with a fine-tuned rendition of Love This Giant opener, "Who," they went on to play classics from the Talking Heads catalogue and some of St. Vincent's best songs spanning from 2009's Actor to last year's Strange Mercy. Imagine how insane and gratifying it must feel for the 29-year-old Clark to have the frontman of Talking Heads singing backup for her songs — which he did encouragingly, often stepping off to the side of the stage and watching her command the room like a proud mentor. The brass ensemble's choreography throughout the show tied everything together as a cinematic experience: playing their instruments lying on their backs during "Cheerleader," slow-marching up the church's centre aisle during "The Party," and circling around Byrne and Clark during an explosive performance of "I Should Watch TV."
During their performance of St. Vincent's "Northern Lights," the duo tag-teamed a theremin solo, undoubtedly one of the coolest moments among two hours of constant coolness overload. The crowd erupted into a standing ovation at that, and from then on everyone was far too stoked to sit back down in those stiff wooden pews.
But easily the top highlight of the evening was their performance of the Talking Heads' 1983 hit "Burning Down the House." Byrne broke out his opening acoustic guitar riff and busted some moves, giving life to his spectral appearance of an all-white, well-fitted suit and black suspenders, the entire band and much of the crowd yelling the titular lyric along with him. Despite the gilded cathedral-esque setting, the night was for testifying of a whole other kind.
To see Exclaim!'s Pop Montreal photo gallery, head here. You can also watch some live footage of the show below courtesy of Hélène Robitaille-Hidalgo.