From start to finish, Lennox absolutely killed at recent SMU gig
In one word flawless.
After her sixth song, Annie Lennox sat alone at a baby grand piano at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Auditorium last Sunday and finally spoke to her excruciatingly polite and devoted audience.
“I’ve waited in my hotel room all day to do this show,” she said in a gorgeous Scottish brogue. “I can’t take time between concerts to do much cookery or domestic chores.”
And like a tough blues mama, she soulfully launched into “Here Comes the Rain Again.”
For 25 years, Lennox has delivered. And thankfully, the diva has been immortalized in music video every step of the way.
The “Songs of Mass Destruction” tour was equally organic and electric. A seven-piece band that included two backup singers never upstaged the star (we only had to applaud one brief guitar solo). But the video screen that stretched above Lennox created a dazzling effect. Slow-motion edits of an exceptionally art-directed catalogue augmented the appropriate songs. And no one celebrates gender-bent culture better than our androgynous chanteuse.
Why hasn’t MTV already bestowed her with the Video Vanguard award?
For the new album, Lennox was accompanied by captivating images: “Smithereens” featured pixilated fields of burning oil wells; and “Dark Road” looked as if someone recently shot Richard Avedon’s haunting and stark “In the American West” series.
Lennox wasn’t the only video queen in the house. Minutes before the 8:30 p.m. curtain rose, Kenny Goss and George Michael made their way to their front-and-center seats. Because he wasn’t wearing sunglasses, George was hardly recognizable wearing a simple black T-shirt and a severe 10 o’clock shadow. It appeared that George survived the entire concert without any gonzo star-fucking madness. And no, an impromptu Annie-George duet didn’t happen either.
From the first song, “No More I Love You’s,” to the encore “Why,” Lennox’s reach never exceeded her grasp. Her voice soaring, silvery, soulful and crystalline was in superb form. Even when she rocked out, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” Lennox’s pipes were never overpowered by the thunderous blasts of bass drums. That chorus: “Hold your head up!/ Keep your head up!” segued to the next portion of the show like a kick to the stomach. However, the dramatic shift was intentional.
The cornerstone of the album and tour is “Sing,” a choral anthem inspired by a visit to South Africa and by the HIV pandemic. “Sing” was prefaced by a short film about the millions of infected children, explaining how mother-to-child transmission can be effectively treated if treated.
It was near impossible to not wince at the footage or the staggering statistics. But Lennox was belting away the rollicking chorus commanding us to “Sing, my sister, Sing!”
Annie was ordering us to overcome AIDS’ hurdles of shame. And instead of looking away, be aware and help others seek treatment.
“We are in a rich country. And we have the power of the vote,” Lennox said. “We can change things in this country, too.”
Speaking of change, there was one costume modification: Lennox slipped into a baby-doll black silky top. However, even after 90 minutes, it all ended too soon. She asked “Whyyyyyyyyyy” as the word “DIVA” glowed in blue script above her head.
Like anyone ever doubted her title.
WORSHIP ST. VINCENT
As the guitarist for both The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, it was only time before St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark, pictured) spread her wings as a solo artist. The dreamy songbird performs a special late-nite gig in the sculpture garden at the Fort Worth Modern on Friday. It’s also the last weekend to see the haunting Ron Mueck exhibit.
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. Oct. 19. St. Vincent at 10:45 p.m. $15. 817-739-9215.
This article appeared in the October 19, 2007 edition of the Dallas Voice.