Saint Saviour by Genie Espinosa.
Fresh from touring with Groove Armada, with whom she collaborated on the album Black Light, Saint Saviour played her debut solo show at Bush Hall, in deepest Shepherds Bush. It must have been a bit bewildering, a week since playing at Brixton Academy after a run of shows that earned her rave reviews and numerous admirers (including the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant) to be appearing in a renovated dance hall on the Uxbridge Road, but the intimate setting was perfect to showcase her new material.
Saint Saviour is no stranger to the pages of Amelia’s Magazine, having been reviewed a couple of times (including once by yours truly) with her old band, the ever-spangly RGBs (who were once described by the NME, no less, as delivering “almighty fem-pop… with an eccentric blitzkrieg wallop”). I’d seen them a few times around town, and I’d also caught her debut with Groove Armada at the climax of last year’s Lovebox festival. It’s actually one of those rare times, if you endlessly follow bands around gigs, where someone you’ve seen play often is plucked from little venues in Kilburn, Brixton or Shoreditch to tour the world.
Taking to the stage with what looked like a giant jellyfish umbrella (“make of that what you will” quipped Saint Saviour, aka Becky Jones), the set started off hypnotically – anyone expecting a set of pumping dance anthems was in for a bit of a shock. In fact, Saint Saviour’s set proved what a versatile performer she is, mixing up her styles and tempos – whether accompanying herself on keyboards on songs like the delicate Fallen Trees and Hurricanes, or upping a gear (backed with a full band and, for a couple of numbers, a string section) with tracks like Birdsong and the kick-ass current single, Woman Scorned: watch the video here:
The stage presence that I’d seen in places like the Windmill or the Old Blue Last, and witnessed by anyone who saw her on tour with Groove Armada, was there in spades tonight, whether entrancing a hushed crowd on the slower numbers with her voice (which has been compared to people like Kate Bush, and I think has a touch of Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins about it) or totally throwing herself into the up-tempo songs.
Saint Saviour by Karolina Burdon.
To thunderous cheers from the crowd, Saint Saviour was tempted back out for an encore of the touching When You Smile, backed solely by harpist Jharda, before leaving once more to the rapturous applause of an appreciative audience. As a debut show, stepping out of the shadow of Groove Armada, it was great success for Saint Saviour and justifies the praise that she’d already received. It was also a bit of a strange moment for me, having seen her back in the day with her old band, and here she is (deservedly so) on the verge of playing bigger stages as a star in her own right.
Catch my post-gig interview with Saint Saviour here.
Brixton Academy, Bush Hall, Cocteau Twins, Elizabeth Fraser, Genie Espinosa, Groove Armada, Jharda, Karolina Burdon, Kate Bush, Lovebox, Neil Tennant, NME, Old Blue Last, pet shop boys, RGBs, Saint Saviour, SaintSaviour, Windmill, Woman Scorned
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