Poor Shore: All Saints: Renaissance@Privilege, Ibiza

YOU’RE SUFFICIENTLY IMPORTANT that a huge illuminated cross adorns the stage this evening. You’re on after the not-strictly-eye-grabbing Pete Tong; posters have been advertising your big moment across town for weeks; talk is of all the stars who’ve joined you on this jaunt (eventual famous head count zero) and now, as the moment approaches, thousands of holiday-happy clubbers are perfectly content for the bpms to plummet if it means they’ll catch sight of some bona fide tabloid celebrities in action.

Only if you had the most acute knack for snatching disaster from the jaws of certain triumph could you make a balls-up of this one. In short, you would have to be All Saints.

Seemingly a calamity which knows no ends, they’re surfing on metaphorical banana skins from start to finish tonight. Not that they actually do anything as dramatic as falling over. No, at all times they prefer an (almost) synchronised waddle, chiefly resembling ducks bedecked in shades and big trousers, though, on occasions, weary folk plodding glumly on running machines.

Proffering R&B without style or edge, pop minus performance and, worst of all, a Balearic happening that never once threatens to happen, sisters-in-soullessness Natalie, Nicole, Melanie and Shaznay exude all the energy, sparkle and commitment of a hastily arranged dress rehearsal, grinding through ‘Under The Bridge’ on auto-cruise, treating ‘Lady Marmalade’ as if it were a dour goth track, not an airy disco belter. You want more covers? Try ‘Walk This Way’, with all the humour and oomph assiduously removed.

“Do you wanna hear ‘Never Ever’, ‘cos we know it’s a bit of a downer?” asks Shaz, clearly getting her head round the state of proceedings. After that, there’s a new one — the shapeless funk of ‘Saints And Sinners’ — followed by a severely muddled ‘Pure Shores’.

And then, just as we’re about to check out whether, in preference to this, Judge Jules and Dave Pearce are hosting a night of watching paint dry somewhere else on the island, they wave goodbye and the sound of four girls and quite a few backing tapes comes to a welcome halt.

All Saints go to grab their pay cheques, the clubbers wake up and the Renaissance bigwigs, you imagine, surmise that in this summer that admirably sees them bringing live music back to the Balearics, none of those who are still to come — Moloko, Moby, Leftfield — will be as desperately dull as this outfit. Because on this showing, All Saints are even more played out and passe than those other tabloid stalwarts, Oasis. No wonder Nicole and Liam seem to have so much in common.

© Andy CrysellNew Musical Express, 19 August 2000

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