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Review Tue Oct 30 2012

Review: Saint Etienne @ Lincoln Hall, 10/29

Gapers Saint Etienne favorite.jpg

Photos by Kirstie Shanley

If it is every music critic's dream to play music half as good as what they want to hear in their head when they critique, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs have it made. The former writers have headed up the instrumentation behind Saint Etienne for over twenty years. The London-based electronic pop group's sugary tunes combined with the sultry vocals of Sarah Cracknell have been a winning combination. Stepping onto the stage at Lincoln Hall last night, it was immediately clear who the star is. Stanley and Wiggs were obstructed by their mountains of gear. Backup singer Debsey Wykes blended into the backdrop in a dark dress. And Cracknell... well, she shined out front in a white glittery dress and feather boa.

Gapers Saint Etienne 3.jpg

On their latest album, Words And Music By Saint Etienne, from which they drew a third of the set list, the trio's written what amounts to a love letter to music. "Popular" references numerous charting singles (and video projections showed images of popular groups from the late 1970s). "Tonight" is about the joy of seeing a great band live. "Haunted Jukebox" and "When I Was Seventeen" are bittersweet looks back on music's impact when you're young. Despite these songs going over well, especially "Haunted Jukebox", the band was practically apologizing for playing new tunes instead of pulling more from their history.

Gapers Saint Etienne 5.jpg

But there should have been no complaints since they played older songs early and often. All night long Stanley and Wiggs switched things up just enough to not be stale, compared to album versions that everyone's heard a lot. "Burnt Out Car" and "A Good Thing" pushed the crowd into dancing more, especially with the encouragement of Cracknell seductively shimmying with her boa. Singalongs for "Sylvie" and "He's on the Phone" (the latter closing out the night after Cracknell polled the crowd for song selection in the encore) were a big hit, as were early singles "Spring" and "Like a Motorway." The only drawback was the band changing the setlist a little, moving "You're in a Bad Way" earlier than usual, and throwing off front-of-house personnel who took a while to set the cue. But it was barely a blip in otherwise a fun evening encapsulating 20+ years of Saint Etienne.

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Gapers Saint Etienne 9.jpg

 
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Meinrad85 / October 31, 2012 10:08 PM

Great show - drove in from out of town and had an easy time finding Lincoln Hall (great, intimate venue by the way) Saint Etienne demonstrated why they are the class of the field - accessible to and in sync with their audience. Authentic personalities delivering transformative music.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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