Thursday, 13 December 2012

Saint Etienne/Scritti Politti


Liquid Room, Edinburgh
4 stars
Questions may be asked about who the real head-liners were in this glorious double bill, though in the end it was the songs that mattered. Seeing Green Gartside's revitalised Scritti Politti live at all is a thrill, even if a bottle of cough medicine is on standby to help Gartside's honeyed tones. Opening with the slow skank of The 'Sweetest' Girl's deconstruction of the love song set the bar high, but, coming so soon after providing the live soundtrack to dancer/choreographer Michael Clarke's latest work, Gartside's four-piece band were happy to go through the Scritti back-catalogue without too much analysis.

Technology has made it easier to play shiny 1980s hits like The Word Girl and Wood Beez, which sit seamlessly alongside more recent wonders like The Boom Boom Bap. There's one new number, which apparently references Kant's response to cultural relativism, and only Gartside can think his eponymous countrified homage to French philosopher Jacques Derrida “really dumb.”

Saint Etienne's recent Words and Music album, written in part with former members of Girls Aloud production-line writing team, Xenomania, is a series of middle-aged love letters to pop. Live, the core trio's mining of sixties girl groups, seventies disco dolly electronica and eighties indie and Eurovision Hi-NRG oddly works better without a full band. With just Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs skulking at the back on assorted electronics while sparkly-frocked singer Sarah Cracknell trades vocals with long-term foil, Debsey Whykes, they too opt for a greatest hits set peppered with the odd new number. The result, even with a guitarist joining them, is a euphoric form of post-modern cabaret on a night of pure pop joy.

The Herald, December 13th 2012

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