Since their brilliant début in 1991, Foxbase Alpha, the growth of the best-named band of the 90s has been critically astonishing.
From their early “indie dance” roots to the classy 60s influence pop that’s a big feature of the recently released Home Counties, no stone is unturned as they constantly engage the listener with driving rhythms and quirky twists and turns that are a pleasure to tired ears.
With wonderfully titled tunes such as Train Drivers In Eyeliner and Church Pew Furniture Restorer, both from the new album, the later one of the stand out tunes of the evening, they’ve a left-field sense of humour that instantly brings a smile to your face even before listening.
Whilst always retaining that club groove, their songs have become more sophisticated, more melodic and instantly appealing, which was very evident in Drive, a song straight from Sergio Mendes’s Brasil 66, but with a youthful twist.
Even with a new album to plug, there was still time for a few oldies but goodies. The band’s breakout tune, Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart was sublime whilst their cover of Candlewick Green’s 1970s cheesy pop classic Who Do Think You Are hit all the right notes and earned a rapturous response.
For a couple of the newer tunes the band introduced Carwyn Jones from local Cardiff band Colorama who had collaborated with singer Sarah Cracknell and contributed to the latest recording along with the band’s founders Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, both supplying a wall of sound to the evenings proceedings.
With the concert date swapped due to a clash with the weekend’s Champion League final, there was still a sizable crowd all of whom were enjoying a very much on form Saint Etienne with singer Cracknell in fine voice, with a superb band in support, whilst all the while enjoying the banter from a noisy audience. A very classy evening from a very classy band.
Pix Tony Chapman