On Friday night, '90s UK act Saint Etienne brought their unique blend of electronic dance music to the Fillmore in support of their new album Words and Music by Saint Etienne. The Sacramento-based indie folk artist Sea of Bees supported the group.
To be entirely honest, I wasn't sure what to expect when Saint Etienne took to the stage with the 1998 single "Lose That Girl." Lead singer Sarah Cracknell was decked out in her trademark sequined mini dress, go-go boots and feather boa. However, the song left a lot to be desired. Cracknell and backup singer Debsey Wykes weren't singing in sync. The band seemed robotic and disinterested.
Thankfully, by the time the band reached the fourth song in the set -- "Spring" from the 1991 album Foxbase Alpha -- both Saint Etienne and the Fillmore crowd seemed to have hit their stride. Those of us in the audience danced and sang along while it was evident that the band fed off of our energy. The show's atmosphere did a complete about face.
Obviously when a band tours a new album, the set list is heavy with new tracks. Saint Etienne had a good balance of old and new songs. During the 1998 single "Sylvie" Cracknell asked the crowd to sing the song's legendary chorus: "Over and over and over and over again." New singles like "Tonight" and "I've Got Your Music" sounded at home between old favorites such as "Like A Motorway" and "Only Love Can Break Your Heart."
Cracknell made various quips during the show about the group's lengthy career and the ages of both the band members and audience members. The show didn't have the same zeal as I imagine Saint Etienne gigs did during their '90s hey day but overall, it was fun and better than I had expected. Hearing certain songs that I have loved since adolescence played live was positively magical.
San Francisco received two encores -- the first featuring the 1995 favorite "He's On the Phone," the second featuring the 1993 favorite "You're In A Bad Way." It was the perfect way to end a gig that had started shaky but ended up wowing us.
Saint Etienne's U.S. tour wrapped up in Los Angeles on November 3. The band returns to Europe for shows in Spain and the UK throughout the rest of the year.