St.Etienne At Irving Plaza
Last night I attended pop-disco trio St.Etienne's sold out show at Irving Plaza and let me tell you my tender kittens, the queens love them some St. Etienne. I haven't been to such a lopsidedly gay-attended concert since I saw Erasure in the same room last year. Interestingly, St.Etienne seems to have a similar fan base as Erasure: gay males, Asians, and gay Asian males.
Like most, I first came across St.Etienne back in 1990 when their haunting dance cover of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" hit the clubs. Their 1994 release "Tiger Bay" is probably in my personal top ten list for the 90's. However, since then I'll admit that I've only paid passing interest to their releases.
Touring as a seven-piece, St. Etienne launched into a rollicking (if short) set, covering some of their biggest hits ("Sylvie", "Who Do You Think You Are", "People Get Real") and a handful of tunes from their current release "Tales From Turnpike House", which came out in the UK eight months ago but only found U.S. distribution last month. Tiny lead singer Sarah Cracknell was in great voice, all smiles and bouncy. My favorite moment was during "Nothing Can Stop Us" when then two guys next to me almost exploded from the giddy joy of acting the song out to each other.
Disappointing me, the band left all my favorites ("Filthy", "He's On The Phone", "Hug My Soul") untouched. Not surprising was their not performing their first hit, "Only Love Can Break Your Heart", because lead vocals on that track were performed by a previous vocalist. Otherwise, it was a fine show and I'm glad I finally got to see St. Etienne in person.
It's worth noting that we were quite taken by opening act Mosquitos, a local trio performing at Irving Plaza as a quintet. Mosquitos are a sort of odd bossa-nova, jazz lounge-y, hipster rock-y kind of act, quite difficult to categorize. Picture a little bit of Pizzacato Five, a little bit of Missing Persons and a quite a lot of early Blondie. The lead singer is a native of Brazil and a number of the songs were in Portuguese. Mosquitos were charming and had none of that numb-struck, "let's get this over with" sort of mood that opening acts so often have. I found them captivating.