A VERY era-specific double bill arrived in Edinburgh here, with 1990s-straddling pop-retro-futurists Saint Etienne headlining a connoisseurs’ pairing kicked off by, representing the 1980s, Scritti Politti.
Saint Etienne/Scritti Politti
Liquid Room, Edinburgh
* * * *
Not that their careers can be so easily reduced to a burst of nostalgia, but the first and shortest of the sets here – a very rare chance to see the reclusive Green Gartside bring his show on the road – was never more resonant than when he and his band were executing note-perfect recreations of soaringly soulful hits like Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) and Absolute.
His newer music, however, surged with the flow of that striking falsetto of his and some typically strong composition.
Wearing a gold sequinned dress and white fur coat, Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell is a dependably lovely character, her other role as a middle-aged mum hinted at by her apparent lack of enthusiasm for dancing vigorously to the trio’s most acid house-inspired tracks, including the heartbreaking Like a Motorway and their oddly bass-laden cover of Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart.
There was hardly a dull moment between the pitch-perfect elegiac of recent song When I Was Seventeen, You’re in a Bad Way’s joyous singalong and the overwhelming positivity of Nothing Can Stop Us. The rather odd decision to have Cracknell acoustically cover Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas in the encore was placed into context by the closer, He’s On the Phone.