David Letterman has been thrilled by SPIN's latest cover stars Yeah Yeah Yeahs before, but the late-night host was undeniably delighted by Karen O and Co.'s performance on his show tonight. The group recreated their April 16 LP Mosquito's opening track "Sacrilege," complete with its gospel choir, on the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater.
Karen — sporting a Christian Joy power-jumpsuit with "Violent Fuzz" (a lyric from the new album's "Area 52") on the back — nails the track's vocal line almost as precisely as it appears on the record, which, as coproducer Dave Sitek tells us, is not uncommon for the frontwoman. "Karen is the most consistent person I know with singing," he said. "She can sing a part and duplicate it 1,000 times and it's identical. I've never seen anything like it. She has an accidental finesse about her."
The band has been performing "Sacrilege" live without the choir for a few weeks, but there's no question having the gospel singers backing the trio (plus touring multi-instrumentalist Dave Pajo) adds a level of drama and depth. Pay extra close attention to the choir's absolutely mind-blowing director, who arrives at the 2:29 mark. Watch this woman and do not stop, people. She is embodying the spirit of Yeah like few others have done. (And for the record, she is Debra Barsha, who directed the choir on Mosquito and for Karen O's psycho opera Stop the Virgens.)