Live Music + Gig Reviews

Saint Etienne @ ICA, London

15 November 2002

Saint Etienne

Saint Etienne

Long-standing purveyors of fine electronic pop Saint Etienne returned to the fray at this crowded, steaming venue. A trio of synth-toting blokes melted away into the background as new mum and lead singer Sarah Cracknell took her rightful place centre-stage. With her trademark mane of blonde hair, and coolly clad in white, she showed her detached sultriness remains.

But for a band showcasing a new album, they warmed up with a bevvy of oldies, beginning with Heart Failed In The Back Of A Taxi – to some bewilderment. When the quartet finally got around to unveiling new album Finisterre, an arty sequence of projected images accompanied them.

The equipment broke down as Sarah was about to launch into new single Action, but the band made do without it. This finely-crafted pop song proved one to make the feet twitch – and by rights should grace the top end of the chart.

Later on, Amateur pounded and growled, while pert pop piece New Thing shows Saint Etienne still don’t worry about rich lyrics.

But it’s not all sugary tweeness with Sarah and her electro-friendly buddies. Shower Scene had that infectious pop beat, but with a reflective moodiness punctuated by a looping lyric. Hopes mounted that an encore of finest hit He’s On The Phone would end this gig on a high – but it wasn’t to be. Sarah seemed worried that her audience was about to wilt from exhaustion on this balmy night. It was a slightly frosty end to a long overdue return.

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