Thursday was a funny old day weather wise in Newcastle. Pouring, driving rain in the early to mid morning. Then things brightened with warm sunshine as I walked with a friend to the Sage in Gateshead albeit accompanied by swirling wind which we joked about being perhaps the wind of change but ultimately discounted.
Support band Kero Kero Bonito were an odd spectacle indeed. A young female Japanese vocalist, leaping around like she was twelve years old, backed by tow keyboardists and samplers making odd shapes and punching out sounds of Sesame Street pop and dance music that encouraged the audience to suspend their adult states. I ultimately couldn't do so and songs about not wanting to get up, trampolines and graduation, 'didn't learn a thing' made me feel I was having a jellybean overdose induced.
Saint Etienne were a muck sleeker proposition. Well they've got twenty years on their support. Bob Stanley didn't appear to be there unless he was buried somewhere behind the large and accompished stage band. But Sarah Cracknell certainly was and she was a good humoured and effective front woman in sleek dress and elegant boa. Chatting to the audience in between songs and dealing very patiently with a large and drunken middle aged heckler who called for 'He's on the Phone' loudly and rather annoyingly between each song before getting his wish on the last song of the night when he and proceeded to race to the front of the stage and dance flamboyantly.
Occasionally the band crossed the boundaries towards slight blandness, which has always been my feeling about much of their recorded output but the evening was a reminder of just how many great singles they've put out over the years. Special mentions for You're in a Bad Way, Who Do You Think You Are, Nothing Can Stop Us, Only Love Can Break Your Heart and the aforementioned He's on the Phone which all sounded great. Also kudos for the slideshow which skillfully evoked all our childhoods and especially the shots of seventies concrete shopping precincts which particularly took me back to family trips in the seventies to Eastbourne to stay with my gran.
Also just before the end of the night they lit up a 'for the many not the few' slide, echoing the Labour Party campaign slogan. It was a touching, brief but nice gesture. I went back to watch the election night unfold to a rather surprising resolution warmed by the show. I'm now in the process of working my way through the band's backing catalogue and finding a great deal to treasure and appreciate.