ThomasOShea's current selection is:
Hug My Soul
by Saint Etienne
Tiger Roll

Saint Etienne at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool | Thursday 17 October 2019

During the second part of the show, Sarah Cracknell asks the audience to remind her when the band last played in Liverpool. A shout comes back that it was 2012 (following the release of that year’s Words And Music album) at The Kazimier. “They’ve knocked that place down now, haven’t they?” replies Sarah. “I hope they don’t do that here, there’s so much history.”

Of course, most of that vaunted past is connected with acting, rather than musical, performance, particularly during the 1970s when its company included the likes of Julie Walters, Pete Postlethwaite and Bill Nighy, as well as providing an outlet for the written works of Willy Russell and Alan Bleasdale.

Last Thursday, however, saw a different kind of troupe treading the boards, the core trio of Sarah, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs being supplemented by three further live band members, a five-piece orchestra and long-standing backing vocalist Debsey Wykes, in order to play 1994 album Tiger Bay in its entirety before a selection of other songs from their back catalogue.

As is usually customary on such occasions, the record was played in sequence as originally released, meaning that once the nine musicians had taken to the stage, the opening song was the instrumental ‘Urban Clearway’, before the singers made their (slightly precarious) way across to the front for ‘Former Lover’ and ‘Hug My Soul’, all to a warm reception from the select, but sell-out, crowd of around 400 crammed into the compact, intimate room.

Other obvious highlights from the Tiger Bay set were its other minor hit singles ‘Pale Movie’ and the Kraftwerk-inspired ‘Like A Motorway’, the latter working surprisingly well outside of its original, sequencer-driven studio setting, as did the dubby instrumental ‘Cool Kids Of Death’.

During this first section, everyone in attendance largely remained seated in the semi-circle surrounding the performance area; however, prior to the album-closing ‘The Boy Scouts Of America’, Sarah noted the gapingly empty area between the band and the front row directly opposite, commenting “now, if that’s not a space for dancing, I don’t know what is” before departing for the interval.

Apart from most of those up in the Circle, where I was centrally situated in the stratosphere, if not quite the gods, the majority of those downstairs needed no second invitation to get up close and personal for the second half – certainly quite a bit closer than I think Sarah was expecting once she'd returned adorned in trademark feather boa!

Undaunted, the back catalogue had its cream skimmed to try and briefly cover their entire career from 1991’s début Foxbase Alpha (the Kylie-covered ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’) to most recent release Home Counties from two years ago (‘Magpie Eyes’), via their own hit cover versions of ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ and ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, before closing the evening’s entertainment with their most successful single, ‘He’s On The Phone’.

Following this, whilst filing out of the venue, a rather breathless and somewhat overwhelmed old acquaintance of mine was quite lost for words to describe what he'd just witnessed, restricting himself to muttering “brilliant, absolutely brilliant” and showing me the autographs he procured from a couple of the band as they were returning backstage, marred only slightly by a faulty ballpoint, which had failed to fully deploy its ink.

Still, much like everyone else, he was more than happy enough with his night and at least had some sort of memento to add an extra bit of glitter to a sparkling occasion.


1994 - Heavenly - United Kingdom
Posted: 21st October 2019
Thomas O'Shea
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