Saint Etienne @ The Leadmill 22/5/12
If there’s one thing I tend to bang on about when I review a gig, it is this; get there for the support act.
Tonight only a handful of punters were there in time to see Stereo Venus, a new group to me. After a short instrumental intro, on walked the singer for their second number. No introductions, but anyone who was at her sold out City Hall back in November might just have realised the singer was none other than Rumer. Her delightful, smooth vocals fitted perfectly with Rory More’s organ sounds, and despite almost no-one realising who she was, together they provided a heady, jazzy mix of delightful sounds. It was the perfect appetiser for the return of Sarah Cracknell and her band, known collectively as Saint Etienne, on this the opening night of their tour.
It was clear from the start that Sarah was in trouble though, as her voice wasn’t sounding good at all. Early on she apologised for her vocal problems, and it was never really going to improve, but they carried on and played a full set, with encores, and the crowd helped by singing along as best they could. The new album only came out the day before, so she struggled alone on the newer tracks, but all the favourites were there, and the inevitable final encore of ‘He’s On the Phone’, meant the show finished on a real high.
Despite her obvious difficulties in actually singing it after struggling for over an hour, the support of the crowd got her through. It was a night of nostalgia for her hits which stretch back to the early nineties, but the new material sounded as strong as ever. I reckon there are a few classics on the new album, we just need time for them to get into our heads the way songs such as ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ and ‘You’re In a Bad Way’ have done.
Words by Mark Perkins.