Saint Etienne and Scritti Politti: HMV Ritz, Manchester

I find myself stood, yet again, on the sticky floor of the newly branded ‘HMV Ritz’ in Manchester when it becomes very apparent to me that I am by far the youngest person in the room. I want to slap my entire generation, I’m sure they’re quite content with their ‘Gangnam-ing’, or whatever, but tonight is about much more than that; tonight is about real, well crafted pop music and I’m excited for it.

It isn’t long before Scritti Politti deliver just that. Singer Green Gartside immediately apologises for a sore throat, and an ‘awful’ cough but thirty seconds into their opener ‘Sweetest Girl’ it’s very clear that his voice is yet to age a day over twenty one.

I forget that I’m watching a ‘support band’ as Politti glide through gentle grooves, interrupted only by the between-song sharp wit of Green, who is clearly a very intelligent man indeed. There’s times in the set when Green is, well, dare I say rapping… This is absolutely the only acceptable time for a middle-aged white man to do so. He pulls it off effortlessly.

Forty five minutes has passed too soon as the band finish with fan favourite ‘Absolute’. We are all in awe, and we all want more, we scream and plead for it. Alas, Scritti Politti have done their job, and they leave the stage. They’ve warmed the audience of a very cold Manchester.

Budding pop-starlets, welcome Sarah Cracknell as your role model. She oozes the class, glamour and glisten that is so often neglected today. There’s nothing cheap about her, at all. She makes her entrance grandly, her attire is one of a mirror-ball dress, fur coat and feather boa. Enchanting. Saint Etienne open their set with ‘Lose That Girl’, coupled with sequenced projected videos of working men’s clubs in the sixties. Very effective indeed. They are well received by us and Cracknell manipulates her body into powerful shapes and she sings.

The Ritz roars as Saint Etienne plough through hits like ‘Sylive’, Neil Young’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ and ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’, and we are induced into a mass sing-a-long. As the set draws to a close, Crackwell’s feather boa is flung into the audience and two men clutch it on either end. After they exchange vicious looks of intimidation, they very formally decided to split the boa in half, and they each leave smiling.

In summary, the evening for most was one of neat nostalgia and pure, pristine pop.

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