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Nothing can stop them now! St Etienne all set for Sunderland show

Good things come to those who wait...

By Gary Oliver
Monday, 6th June 2022, 4:30 pm

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The Engine Room at The Fire Station.
The Engine Room at The Fire Station.

So when St Etienne finally take to the stage at Sunderland’s Fire Station for a long-awaited rearranged gig, we can enjoy an evening of the dreamily delicious, sublime sounds of a band that has treated us to slices of perfect pop for some 30 years now.

Is it really that long since the seminal Foxbase Alpha slipped smoothly from its sleeve on to record players across the country? Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs perfectly capturing the zeitgiest of the indie-dance scene and starting fans of the band on a wonderful journey that continues to this day.

It was on ‘Nothing Can Stop Us Now’ that the slinky, sumptuous vocals of Sarah Cracknell first came to the fore. An achingly beautiful track – still my favourite to this day – oozing style and sophistication, you simply had to fall in love with this band.

Sarah Cracknell and Saint Etienne's rearranged Sunderland gig takes place next month. Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images

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    And on a mild May morning, to paraphrase a later lyric, she’s on the phone.

    Summer is upon us and Sarah has a sunny disposition. With a trip to the city by the sea in the offing and a new venue to play, it’s not hard to pick up the excitement and enthusiasm on the other end of the line.

    "We’re really looking forward to coming to Sunderland and the Fire Station was the venue for the original booking so we wanted to honour that,” Sarah says. “And it’s always nice to play somewhere new.”

    For both artists and audiences, the pandemic meant a suspension of live shows for the best part of a two-year period. Time flies and little wonder the trio want to re-establish that connection with audiences. “It’s about scratching that itch again,” as Sarah puts it.

    Saint Etienne's debut album, Foxbase Alpha.

    It’s also about getting people out of their seats and dancing again. “I’m always the one looking to get people up and dancing. I don’t want to be the only one! But everyone I’ve seen at our shows seems to have really enjoyed getting out again. Everyone feels upbeat, liberated and it’s so nice to see. So yes, lots of dancing please!”

    With a back catalogue including such tracks as You’re In A Bad Way, Kiss And Make Up, He’s On The Phone, Who Do You Think You Are, dancing will be guaranteed. The only problem is, how do you keep everyone happy. The perfect set-list doesn’t exist, after all.

    "There’ll be a lot of familiar tracks but it does get tougher and tougher as each of us has our favourite songs. Each of us tries to accommodate the others’ wish lists as we want to make it exciting and enjoyable for both ourselves and the audience.”

    30 years of enchantment, these ‘music butterflies’ are spreading their wings and heading our way.

    Inside the new Fire Station Auditorium.

    So dig out your best wardrobe and get ready for an evening that promises to be, well just rather lovely.

    St Etienne are on their way to Sunderland.

    They’ve got your music. Nothing can stop them now.

    St Etienne play the Fire Station on Friday, June 10. For ticket details, visit https://sunderlandculture.org.uk/events/saint-etienne/

    Sarah Cracknell of Saint Etienne performing on stage. Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images
    Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne will be performing at The Fire Station next month. Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images