Check out our festival coverage, including that from SXSW 2017 and BIGSOUND 2017, through here.

SXSW 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2015 | 2013 | 2012

Don't forget to like There Goes the Fear on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Live Review: Saint Etienne at U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC – 27th September 2017

 
By on Friday, 29th September 2017 at 1:00 pm
 

There are some bands that you know will always put on a good show. Further, if it’s a band who have survived the test of time, the odds are even better. So naturally, I went into the Saint Etienne show in Washington Wednesday night knowing I was in for a good time. There was a nearly 30-minute delay to their start, despite there being no opening act. Also, I think they made some questionable choices in their set list. Despite all that, Sarah Cracknall and co., which included five additional live members to Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs on synths, put on a show that got their audience grooving. Well, as much as the U Street Music Hall crowd of mostly bespectacled men with varying degrees of baldness could stand. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. It’s a very strange feeling to be stuck in a crowd of men, some of whom barely moved for the entire set except to snuffle, take a photo of the gyrating Cracknall with their phones, then resume with almost stony-faced immobility.)

We'rre Actually Very Tired Saint Etienne

Saint Etienne were in town to promote their latest album released in June, their 9th called ‘Home Counties’, a love letter to the commuter towns of London from where they themselves came from. You can read my review of the LP here. Before they got onstage, an impressive array of equipment was already set up, while a series of phrases in English droll wit, in the font on ‘Home Counties’, shuffled on the projection screen behind. “Contains Thematic Elements!” “We’re Actually Very Tired!” But of all of them, “Skilled Musicians With Over Twenty-Five Years Experience!” was my favourite, as if to remind any young whippersnappers in the audience that Saint Etienne had been around the block and could teach them a thing or two.

Saint Etienne Washington September 2017 1

Shortly before 8:30, they went on to rapturous applause from the audience who had been patiently waiting since doors had opened an hour and a half earlier, not to mention 5 years since their last show here. What followed after the pastoral instrumental interlude of ‘Church Pew Furniture Restorer’ was a pretty good mish-mash of old favourites with ‘Home Counties’ tracks mixed in. On ‘Out of My Mind’, you’re reminded how beautiful Cracknall’s voice still is, as well as just how good Stanley and Wiggs are at crafting a pop melody. The song chugs along at the perfect pace for pop to be able to let the lyrics sink in, and Cracknall’s delivery of them is both pleasing in their rhymes and heart-breaking. I nearly cried. The disco beat-thumping ‘Dive’, another track from their latest record, was introduced as the #1 vinyl single in the UK, which seems to suggest quite discerning tastes of the record buying British public, doesn’t it?

Saint Etienne Washington September 2017 2

Played live, songs from 1998’s ‘Good Humor’ and 2012’s ‘Words and Music’ are a good reminder how consistently Saint Etienne have been over the years as an electropop group. ‘Lose That Girl’ and ‘Sylvie’ from “our electro-folk days”, Cracknall quipped, seem simpler than you might have thought before from the records. Then the synth-dense ‘I’ve Got Your Music’ brings you firmly into the 21st century. Not all bands give you the opportunity to yearn for their songs from totally different eras.

I was sure that they would play the minor key wonder ‘Heather’ from the new record in the encore, but they chose to play ‘Train Drivers in Eyeliner’ instead. (I also wondered what happened with ‘You’re in a Bad Way’, as it too was omitted.) My train drivers are welcome to wear whatever makeup they so choose but as I described in my album review, it’s a strange duck indeed. The sweeping ‘Take It All In’, of a similar speed and played in the earlier in the set, is a far better choice to showcase Cracknall’s voice. Still, all was not lost: ‘He’s on the Phone’ brought things back up tempo to close the night on a high.

Saint Etienne Washington September 2017 3

After the cut: Saint Etienne’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Saint Etienne at U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC – 27th September 2017

 

Video of the Moment #2390: Saint Etienne

 
By on Thursday, 29th June 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Legendary dance pop band Saint Etienne released their ninth studio album the first Friday of this month. ‘Home Counties’, on which they fixed their gaze on the commuter belt of London for inspiration, is out now on Heavenly Recordings. You can read my review of the album back here. Their newest promo video from the LP is for ‘Magpie Eyes’.

Band member Pete Wiggs says of the new promo: “The video was shot in Stevenage with its once fine Ladybird book New Town architecture that was a fleeting vision of suburban utopia. The director Tash Tung came up with the idea of an imagined younger ‘us’ spending a typical day hanging out in record shops and cafes – capturing the ennui and bonhomie of those years when you have no idea how your life will pan out.” Enjoy it below. To catch up on all of our coverage on Saint Etienne right here on TGTF, come through.

 

Album Review: Saint Etienne – Home Counties

 
By on Thursday, 1st June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Saint Etienne Home Counties album coverI don’t like concept albums. I find them pretentious, that as listeners, we’re supposed to sit through an entire record focused on one topic. I also imagine their recording process to be creatively stifling, forcing a band going into the studio to be bound by very specific constraints to achieve their ideal intended product. However, following the success of 2005’s ‘Tales of Turnpike House’ chronicling the tenants of a block of flats in EC1 London, it seems inevitable that Saint Etienne would one day turn their artistic gaze to the leafy suburbs of the city’s commuter belt for further inspiration. Enter their ninth album ‘Home Counties’, described in the press release as follows: “The love/hate relationship people have with ‘home’ is particularly acute in the Home Counties. Yet Saint Etienne understand that, if you squint, it could be almost utopian… small town groups [are] looking to the capital but audibly inspired by municipal housing, box hedges and ring roads.”

As should be rightly expected from a legendary dance pop band nearing 3 decades in the business, ‘Home Counties’ hits the right notes with several tunes guaranteed to get people on the dance floor. Interestingly, they’ve chosen to mix things up with sounds and styles of eras gone by. Introduced with hi-hat hits aplenty and bolstered by bright brass notes, dusky disco number ‘Dive’ is sure to pique ears with its Studio 54 sensibility. The harpischord-led ‘Take It All In’ pulls us back into the Sixties, encouraging us to stop and smell the roses, while you imagine yourself throwing shapes on a shag carpet to the throwback drumbeats and guitars reminiscent of a Petula Clark hit. We stay in the same decade for nostalgic ‘Underneath the Apple Tree’, a Motown-esque foot stomper. In stark contrast, ‘Heather’, the LP’s lead single, is Saint Etienne’s stab at today’s brand of pop music, with presumably the intention of grabbing the attention of younger ears that might have otherwise never heard of the group. The minor key and syncopated rhythm fitting in perfectly with its ghostly subject: “Heather was once a girl questioned her life / she comes and she goes like the warmth in the daylight”.

‘Something New’ shows you what Saint Etienne do better than any other dance-orientated band: transport you to a specific time and place, when we were all doe-eyed youngsters and all we could think of was having a good night out (see ‘When I Was Seventeen’). In the wake of the Manchester Arena terror attack last week, it’s all the more poignant, Sarah Cracknell’s effortlessly silky smooth vocals bringing a simultaneous sense of innocence and security. Saint Etienne were never the kind of band to hit you on the head with big beats to tap into your brain. No, they’re far more sneaky. On album standout ‘Out of My Mind’, Cracknell’s sweet voice raises all the questions we have for someone we used to love, the ones that percolate in the mind we’re feeling alone and wondering if there’s life after the breakup. “Was it a crime? / Are we gonna pay? / Are we gonna laugh about it one of these days?”, she asks naively, yet with a palpable touch of cynical resignation. It’s not ‘He’s on the Phone’, sure, but it’s catchy and without overstaying its welcome.

There are missteps on ‘Home Counties’ that are far less successful. On ‘After Hebden’, Cracknell asks in a languid delivery, “so tell me / how does it make you feel?”, as synth notes plod along on the hohum track. ‘Train Drivers in Eyeliner’ wins points for originality – what an image, right? – but compared to the rest of the album, it feels like strange filler. Clocking in at nearly 8 minutes, the lounge-y ‘Sweet Arcadia’ with Cracknell’s spoken words isn’t arty, it goes back to the word I used at the beginning of this review: pretentious. Interludes of ‘Church Pew Furniture Restorer’ with its pastoral, suburban children’s choir vibes, ‘Popmaster’ and ‘Sports Report’ make the album feel more Real World than Music World, but I can’t imagine doing anything with them except skipping over them to get to the next song.

‘Home Counties’ is by no means a must purchase. However, there’s a lot to love here, and its highlights are proof that Saint Etienne still have plenty of gas in the tank. There’s a reason why they are beloved legends in the dance world, and they’ll no doubt be a highlight at festivals this summer.

7.5/10

‘Home Counties’, incredibly Saint Etienne’s ninth studio album, is out tomorrow, the 2nd of June, on PIAS / Heavenly Recordings. The dance pop trio also begin a UK tour tomorrow at London Royal Festival Hall; for all the dates, go here. Additional live festival and tour dates, including those in North America in the autumn, can be viewed on their official Web site. You can read through all of TGTF’s past coverage of Saint Etienne through this link.

 

Saint Etienne / June 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 30th May 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs and Sarah Cracknell, known collectively as long-soldiering dance pop band Saint Etienne, will be releasing their ninth album on Friday. ‘Home Counties’ is a love letter to the London commuter belt where they were born and raised, and the new long player will be available from Heavenly Recordings / PIAS on the 2nd of June. (Stay tuned for a review of the LP by me later this week.) Following an appearance at Primavera Festival Wednesday in Barcelona, they return to Britain to being a new UK tour in London to support their new record. Tickets to this tour are on sale now, as are shows in North America in September and October; for all their appearances announced so far for this year, visit their official Web site. To read more on Saint Etienne here on TGTF, go here.

Friday 2nd June 2017 – London Royal Festival Hall
Saturday 3rd June 2017 – Cardiff Tramshed
Sunday 4th June 2017 – Birmingham Town Hall
Tuesday 6th June 2017 – Bexhill De La Warr Pavillion
Thursday 8th June 2017 – Gateshead Sage
Friday 9th June 2017 – Edinburgh Queens Hall
Saturday 10th June 2017 – Sheffield City Hall Ballroom
Sunday 11th June 2017 – Manchester RNMC Concert Hall

 

Saint Etienne / December 2015 English Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 18th November 2015 at 9:00 am
 

Synth pop trio Saint Etienne have announced a Christmas tour for this December, along with news of two special releases to accompany the upcoming live dates.  Fan club release ‘A Glimpse of Stocking’ has been made available for the first time on vinyl in a 2,000-copy limited edition, and previously unreleased track ‘We Survived’, recorded in 1984, is available in an even more limited 300-copy edition.  In addition to selling the discs in their Web shop, Saint Etienne will sell 25 copies of ‘We Survived’ – first come, first served – at each show on their Christmas docket.

Each show on the December tour will feature a different support act, as noted below, as well as special guest DJs on each night.  Tickets for the following shows are available now.

You can find TGTF’s past coverage of Saint Etienne right back this way.

Tuesday 8th December 2015 – Gateshead Sage (with Warm Digits)
Wednesday 9th December 2015 – Manchester Albert Hall (with Whyte Horses)
Thursday 10th December 2015 – Wakefield Unity Hall (with Galaxians)
Friday 11th December 2015 – Croydon Fairfield Halls (with Pre New and Kero Kero Bonito)

 

Top Gigs of 2012: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Friday, 21st December 2012 at 11:00 am
 

Another year, and another top 5 gigs by bands that should not be missed live. How odd that three of them came one after another, but that’s the cool thing about Washington DC. Except for December through the beginning of February (the dead of winter) and June through August (festival season), there is always a reasonably good selection of bands coming through here. But that hasn’t always been the case.

I am often asked on my travels why I became a music blogger, and the simple answer has always been this: when I started covering shows in March 2009, I was getting increasingly upset about how many bands (American or international) would skip Washington entirely, either in favour of going to Philadelphia instead or would only consider New York, or maybe Boston, as the only cities worthy on the East Coast for a tour stop. I have had the opportunity to meet so many bands in the last 3+ years that Washington DC has now become considered on the list of cities bands sincerely wish to play in – or on the list that bands say they will definitely pass through on their next headline tours of North America. To know that I have been involved in making this paradigm shift a reality means so much. It means that I have done something for the city I’ve called home all these years and more importantly, have exposed thousands of music fans from varying walks of life who either work, go to school, or pass through our fine city to incredible music.

All five bands whose gigs landed them in my top 5 gigs of 2012 are worth every red cent you can put forward to go see them, either in their own gig or at a festival in 2013. Here’s the list…

5. Ash‘s 20th anniversary tour at DC9 (Thursday 15th November 2012) – what a surreal experience, finally seeing Ash live, in one of the smallest places to see bands in Washington. Even more surreal was after, when I actually got to talk to all of them and Tim Wheeler said I was a more appropriate panelist for Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable than he was. (This made me smile.) The set itself was brilliantly hard rocky, much more so than I ever would have imagined.

4. TGTF’s stage at Liverpool Sound City 2012, starring the Temper Trap, Clock Opera and Dear Prudence Liverpool Academy of Arts (Friday 18th May 2012) – maybe this is cheating, choosing our own stage at Liverpool. But this night couldn’t have been any better, starring our friends since I took over as Editor of this Web site, the Temper Trap, our new friends from SXSW, Clock Opera, and a band from Brighton destined to bigger things, Dear Prudence. All we can say is THANK YOU to all the bands for making it such a memorable night and THANK YOU Sound City for letting us host this amazing stage.

3. Husky at Red Palace (Friday 17th November 2012) – it’s a sad day in Washington, as Red Palace, similar in intimate size to DC9, will be closing its doors at the end of 2012. But before then, I managed to catch the Melbourne band we befriended at this year’s Great Escape. Just check out this video from the show of the band performing an a capella version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Lover Lover Lover’ and you’ll understand why they’re so good live.

2. the Joy Formidable at St. Stephen’s Church (Saturday 10th November 2012) – the Welsh band have consistently placed in my top 5 gigs of the last 2 years; last year they were at #4 and in 2010, they were at #2. What made the difference and put them higher up this year? Seriously, how often do you see such a power house band in a space as small as a church’s rec room? (Well, it was a little bigger than that…but still.) Absolutely fabulous. And their new album ‘Wolf’s Law’ will be huge next year; just check out this live version of first single ‘Cholla’.

1. Two Door Cinema Club at 9:30 Club (Tuesday 2nd October 2012) – I was having serious reservations about Two Door’s live show, or rather some of their less than nice fans, after seeing them in Baltimore in June and getting shoved – hard – out of our positions down the front. I almost swore I’d never see them again. But I’m glad I changed my mind.

What was the first date on the autumn 2012 North American tour to sell out? Washington DC, of course. There is still some confusion on whether or not Barack Obama is a fan, but one thing is clear: of all the bands that I’ve known and loved, I did right by Two Door Cinema Club – and helped them become the superstars that they’ve dreamt of being since they started as kids in grammar school. I used to be able to see them after shows and hang out with them, but even as those days are over, they’ve never forgotten me. They are true gents.

Honourable mentions:

St. Etienne at U Street Music Hall (Thursday 25th October 2012) – there’s something to be said for Sarah Cracknall, who may be over 40 but still rocks it out every night as if she was in her 20s.

Divine Fits at 9:30 Club (Thursday 18th October 2012) – it always feels incredibly validating when you see a ‘new’ band who hasn’t been touring much…and they turn out to be absolutely fantastic.

Keane with Mystery Jets at Strathmore Hall (Thursday 14th June 2012) – it’s effin’ Keane, for god’s sakes. And with Mystery Jets, who never tour in America! Win-win, really.

Paula and Karol at 93 Feet East in London (Tuesday 15th May 2012) – what do you do between music festivals? Go to a gig, of course. And at this one, I felt welcomed by the entire Polish population of London. What atmosphere.

First Aid Kit at Black Cat (Friday 30th March 2012) – this show was so spirited, the elder Soderberg lost her top right before the encore. Hardcore.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2012 so you can have some idea how difficult my job was to choose favourites for the top 5 list. The runner-up gigs are also marked.
Continue reading Top Gigs of 2012: Editor’s Picks

 
Page 1 of 212
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it. If you want a track removed, email us and we'll sort it ASAP.

E-mail us  |  RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us