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Before Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, was headlining festivals, collaborating with David Byrne and churning out sleek electro-pop, she was a known mostly as a guitar wizard—a performer who could carry an entire show with just her voice and her axe. She’d earned those chops the hard way: first at Berklee College of Music in Boston, then as a member of Texas evangeli-rockers The Polyphonic Spree, the as a member of Sufjan Stevens’s touring band. In 2007, she released her debut album as St. Vincent Marry Me, which immediately impressed with its experimental pursuits and multi-instrumentalism. Onstage, though, Clark was still a shredder.
Read: The 10 Best Forgotten Beatles Songs
If you were fortunate enough to catch her in these early days, you’ll remember that a staple of her live show was her one-woman powerhouse performance of The Beatles’ “Dig a Pony,” one of the best tunes from their final release, 1970’s Let It Be. On Feb. 27, 2009, months before the release of her sophomore album, Actor, St. Vincent performed the song at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. In this exclusive video shot that night, Clark is still surprised that audience members even know the difference between her real name and her stage name: “I’m so happy that some of you knew that already. Trust me, that’s a whole new ballgame.”
Nearly a decade later, everyone knows St. Vincent is a global pop star. And she’s still covering the greats, including recent versions of songs by SZA and Sleater-Kinney.
Watch St. Vincent perform a blazing rendition “Dig a Pony” in 2009, with just her guitar and dynamic voice, beginning at the 3:34 mark: