If the crowd at the Forum and recent press reports are anything to go by, a lot of people out there think Saint Etienne are pretty good. This may or may not have something to do with their recent top 10 single collaboration with Ibiza resident DJ Paul Van Dyk, but as a Saint Etienne innocent, I was slightly bemused.
This was the last of seven gigs in a week and Sarah Cracknell must have worked her way to the bottom of the suitcase, appearing to have dressed for the office rather than Friday night in Kentish Town. However she has a great voice, though she wasn’t helped by the sound balance that left most of her vocals unintelligible.
Many of the songs, including the new single Heart Failed (In The Back Of A Taxi), were accompanied by sixties-style videos, which were interesting if not inspired. The backing singers were a hoot, poured into skin-tight shirtwaisters in vibrant red and violet, and gyrating for all they were worth.
The Forum probably isn’t the best place to get to know a band like this: a more intimate venue would have brought out the subtlety of their offering – their recordings are a lot more interesting and varied than the set would suggest. Having said that their established fans seemed more than happy, especially when things hotted up towards the end of the set.
The early hit, a highly successful cover of Neil Young‘s Only Love Can Break Your Heart, had even the balcony dancing.
By the end of the evening I was starting to see what all the fuss was about – I just don’t think they did themselves any favours with new recruits at the Forum.