Saint Etienne and Stereo Venus: The Leadmill, Sheffield

Once upon a time Saint Etienne had the ability to make even the hardest of hearts break. The power they had over people was something rather magically not only through perfectly attuned musical compositions, perfect pop lyrics and honey like vocals, but also due to a beautiful lady, known as Sarah Cracknell. It’s been seven years since the three-piece delighted music fans but tonight and with their eighth studio album Words and Music by Saint Etienne just released, Saint Etienne kicked off their 2012 tour at The Leadmill, Sheffield.

You may have wondered what on earth was going on if you wandered into the venue to find a man, later self introduced as Rory More, tinkling on a Lowry Heritage Deluxe Organ. Turns out this was, in fact, the warm up to Stereo Venus, our support band of the night. More was soon joined onstage by singer Sarah Rumer Joyce and a guitarist who shall remain nameless, as to be honest; it was rather astounding that More had introduced his organ as an actual member of the band. Admittedly a tricky act to describe, but put it this way, if you crossed jazz fuelled bossa nova with Bert Bacharach whilst wearing lounge suits in the middle of cocktail hour at your nearest Butlins during bingo, then you may just have an inkling of what Stereo Venus are about.

A bit bemusing to the audience consisting of roughly 85% men and 15% women, many of whom look like they’d be brought along to accompany their significant other and the others simply looking like brickies with hard-ons. Nevertheless, the vastly growing crowd were there for our headline act, the rather lovely Saint Etienne. Celebrating their first studio release since 2005, the trio took to the stage like they’d never been away. With Pete and Bob taking their stances behind their keyboards, they were outshone by a very sparkly Sarah Cracknell. Dressed in a glittery knee length dress, accessorised with a feather boa Cracknell and the boys kicked off with Like A Motorway. It was a flashback to the late 1990’s/early 2000’s as hit after hit including Method Of Modern Love and Who Do You Think You Are.

Noticeably struggling with her voice and going slightly off key at times, Cracknell apologised profusely to the crowd, whilst take a ‘medicinal’ sip of a gin and tonic the audience appeared to forget the bum notes and sympathised with the leading lady.

Mixing old songs with new, it was a spectrum of delights. Taking the last song from the new album Hunted Jukebox and adding well known tracks, such as You’re In A Bad Way provided a nostalgic trip, a lot of dancing and sing-a-longs with the audience. As the time came to close, they brought out a three track encore including new single Tonight and finally finished with He’s On The Phone.

The thing was when it came to the close, no one wanted to go home, it was happy, it was fun and a wonderful evening spent with Saint Etienne and friends.