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Saint Etienne

Saints of the screen

Pop trio premiere film
27 Oct 05 - Urban romantics Saint Etienne premiered their latest film project at London's Barbican tonight followed by a mini gig.

What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day? pays homage to the industrial wasteland of East London's Lea Valley - soon to be redeveloped to make way for the 2012 Olympics. The sold-out screening was accompanied by a soundtrack performed live by the band, while the second half of the evening featured tracks from latest album Tales From Turnpike House.

Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley told 6 Music: "We finished the film about 6 o'clock last night, so it was a bit hairy."

The 50-minute docu-film follows the day in the life of a fictional paperboy, Mervyn Day, named after the much-loved 70s West Ham footballer who came from the area. As the teenager goes about his day on his bike delivering papers, the camera pans across the various derelict industrial land, overgrown open spaces and waterways.

The voice-over also includes interviews with workers and residents reflecting on their experiences of the area, it's history and future.

Bob Stanley explained: "It's a fascinating area. I've lived in London for 20 years and knew nothing about the area. In a nutshell, both plastic and petrol were invented there and the Labour Party was born there. But it's basically all going to disappear in the next few years. It felt like someone should archive it - and we thought we might as well do it."

Veteran singer David Essex and Birds Of A Feather actress Linda Robson provide the voices to Mervyn's mother and grandad in the film, which is the follow-up the band's 2003 big screen effort Finisterre - a hymn to the capital as a whole.

"We finished the film about 6 o'clock last night, so it was a bit hairy."
Bob Stanley, Saint Etienne

Famous fans who turned out for the event included Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie and Suggs from Madness.

Duke Spirit's Leila Moss was also there and she told 6 Music: "Saint Etienne are so well loved as they're constantly growing and evolving, and have become a band as much known for film as they are for their pop classics."

The singer, who's just returned from Duke Spirit's European tour, added: "It's a blueprint for the future - I just don't know how the hell they find the time. I barely found time to leg it down here on the bus, let alone start planning a film."

Following the screening, Saint Etienne then played a 10-song set which featured 8 tracks from their concept album Tales From Turnpike House - a collection of songs about life in a tower block, through the eyes of its inhabitants. The set included recent Top 40 hit, Side Streets and the forthcoming new single, Good Thing. 

For the encore, long-term fans were also treated to two of the band's pop classics, Action and Nothing Can Stop Us. 'Paperboy' Mervyn Day, aka actor Noah Kelly, wheeling his bike from the film, then joined Saint Etienne frontwoman Sarah Cracknell on stage marking the grand finale to the evening.

Kellie Redmond

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