Saint Etienne: 26 October 2012 – New York

Saint Etienne are performing songs off their acclaimed album Words and Music, a disc not even released here yet, but one the fans know by heart.

Saint Etienne’s Words and Music has earned some high marks from music critics (including PopMatters) this year though the album has yet to be released officially in the States. Yet the fans here have taken the songs to their hearts and the audience was quiet eager to see Saint Etienne in New York as this was their first US tour in over six years. Unfortunately, overall the band is only out for a short stint in the US but they hit many major metropolitan areas before Election Day.

Let me voice my main complaint straight away. For some reason the tunes didn’t carry as much weight as they could have at Webster Hall. This is the venue where I’ve had my head walloped by DJ Shadow’s bass lines and even Mates of State sounded more powerful, but the sound for Saint Etienne on this night didn’t pass muster. I don’t know why the volume was low — people were clearly ready to dance (maybe it was the Halloween parties on lower club levels?).

But, there was joy in the evening as I had yet to see Saint Etienne perform live (though the stage production wasn’t anything special) so for me, as for most others, the music was the highlight of the short set. The band performed older hits like “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” and When I was Seventeen” alongside the newer Words and Music gems “Tonight” and “I’ve Got Your Music”. Swirling lights did add some excitement to the pulsating disco beats and I could see everyone was having a good time. Sarah Cracknell, the frontwoman was also the spokesperson for the band, introducing the songs and speaking with the audience. She was accompanied by the core of the band, Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs and another vocalist (all of whom were essentially in the shadows). But every now and then, Cracknell’s sequined dress caught the bursts of light and reflected it in each and every direction — onto the band and onto her fans. In those glimpses, you could see adoring fans stretching out their arms to Cracknell, aching to be caught up in the music.

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Lose that Girl

Who Do You Think You Are

Burnt Out Car



Haunted Jukebox

When I was Seventeen

A Good Thing



Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Like a Motorway


Nothing Can Stop Us


I’ve Got Your Music

He’s on the Phone

[second break]

You’re in a Bad Way

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