Live Review: St Etienne play Foxbase Alpha, Hebden Bridge Trades Club

They say if you can remember the sixties you weren’t there and the same is true for the rave generation of the nineties.

Once they’d got back home from a banging rave in a field the chilled tones of St Etienne’s Foxbase Alpha always helped them return from whichever dimension they’d visited and here are the original line-up  in a small club playing it from start to finish.


Loads of their contemporaries are doing these full album shows ,with mixed results, but here St Eitenne make a triumphant return made even better even better as Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs are much better musicians then they were back in the day.

The album is a heady mix of sixties influenced avant-garde noodling, and straightforward classic pop tunes like their pin sharp reinvention of Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart,

Sarah Cracknell was always the poster girl for fans of literate, knowing pop music and, even though her voice never really soars. it remains the band’s main weapon ably supported by backing singer Debsey Wykes. She adds some texture as the boys noddle away at the back in gold suits they might have nicked from Martin Fry.

As you listen to the band lurch from odd songs like album opener This Is Radio Etienne, or the wig out of Stoned to Say the Least, to the dreamy beauty of Carnt Sleep you suddenly realise this is modern pop art that The Who and The Kinks pioneered.

But it all makes sense when Cracknell launches into Billboard Dance Chart Number one Nothing Can Stop Us Now transporting the blissed out middle aged audience back to their misspent youth. It remains one of the all-time great British pop singles promoting plenty of arms waving in the air as if rave was still relevant today.

As Foxbase Alpha is a bona fide pop masterpiece it’s all over in an hour before they come back and totally smash it with should have massive hits, Who Do You Think You Are and You’re In A Bad Way, which was ironic as they left the crowd in a very good place totally blissed out on their memories.


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