Sunday, 27 May 2012

Saint Etienne @ Leamington Spa Gig Review

Saint Etienne @ Leamington Assembly
26 May 2012 Gig 28

So whats a mere 6,646 days between dates or 18 years, 2 months and 10 days, this is the period of time since last seeing Saint Etienne in concert, the first time was at Manchester Academy, Mrs P was at Uni at Manchester, it was my first year at work, I had to get up at the crack of dawn having slept in student digs and traverse the nightmare M6 traffic jams. What was a little disturbing was that Sarah Cracknell doesn't appear to have changed physically at all in that period, right down to the sparkly hugging dress and white feather boa whereas the ravages of time have definitely taken their toll on this side of the stage, particularly in the follicle area. In fact the only suggestion that Sarah may be older was the apology made half way through the gig for a mix up in songs and resulting (mild) swear word to her kids on the balcony.

Bob and Pete hide away
Saint Etienne are an interesting live prospect, Pete and Bob hiding at the back of the stage in the shadows looking proudly as Sarah is front and centre distracting everyones attention spotlighted through out, plus the unheralded multi instrumentalist backing vocalist and co songwriter on one track, who is so unheralded I can't find reference on the web to her name, great pipes though. This is all coupled with the backing of arty films to every song on the big screen behind, my favourite being the 'Top of the Pops from the 70's pictures' (with some rogue ones) - I would recommend the 35 years behind the times TOTP on BBC 4 Thursday at 7:30 to anyone.

When I say interesting, I suppose I mean different, with incredible highs, such as 'You're in a bad way' singing along to every word and bouncing up and down a bit more hum drum ones when the songs are just a bit more average and Sarah doesn't manage to add any sparkle. Luckily there were more of the former tonight than the latter. Sarah is a great front woman, although her style brings more to mind of trying to listen to what the lovely lass at the disco is saying in between the songs she sings along to and dances to rather than any amazing rock posturing, which is fun.

Fun is a definitely part of Saint Etienne's make up, which the signed sleeve of you're in a bad way on my wall demonstrates. Collected at a signing by Mrs P many years ago, its made out to me saying 'To Neil, I bet you're foxy as hell, love Sarah' which beats the best wishes of most bands.

Highlights for me were the obvious singles as ever, sing alongs with Sylvie 'Over and over and over and over again.....' and others (much appreciated by the band) and some of the flustered topics by Sarah. We had the wrong song intro a couple of times, a missed verse in he's on the phone and the story about coming here because she had seen Primal Scream at the venue and loved it twice, and a focus of one of the songs being a missed opportunity as a Eurovision song entry.

As you would expect there was were a number of songs from the new album, which Amazon has failed miserably to deliver this week, one of which was summed up as being about playlists with lyrics by Pete, although Pete did note that the song was far more complicated than this! They were pretty good but as ever need lots more listens, first single 'Tonight' definitely benefitted from this.

The gig ended with the whole crowd hands above heads cheering off the band, a great night had by all, and a pop next door to The Great British Take Away for some of the most tasty, lovingly prepared (i.e. slow) chips I have ever eaten, worth the wait, and another reason why the Assembly seems to be the venue that everyone enjoys the most with its Laurence Lewellyn Bowen chic.
Will I wait another 9,570,240 minutes before seeing Saint Etienne again in the flesh, who knows, but if they keep on being innovative with their merchandise with reissues (Giant Subutteo man sitting on my shelf attests to this) then I would imagine their songs will last longer than most. 

Not got too much to say about the support act, apart from it being the only gig where they referred to their songs as 'pieces' and were fine as backing music while we caught up with some friends, oh and as Mrs P rightly pointed out, as ever the 2 giants in the venue came and stood in front of us.......again! A better way to spend a Saturday night than watching Englebert fail at Eurovision miserably definitely.

p.s. - sadly I don't pay enough attention in life, the b/v's are provided by Debsey and she's been around for ages, as this clearly shows being the original mix with her vocals, I'll get me coat (cheers Patrick & George).

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