The Saints have big-name fans. Bruce Springsteen covered their “Just Like Fire Would” every night of a recent tour, and Bob Geldof said only three bands changed rock in the Seventies – the Pistols, the Ramones and The Saints. Like the Pistols, the Saints were spat out by an uncomprehending EMI, but they kept going, and here they were promoting an excellent 14th album, King of the Sun.
Charismatic singer, songwriter, and now bassist, Chris Bailey, and his uniquely rasping voice is the one constant in the Saints. The music is now less the 100mph buzz-saw guitar of the early years and more driving garage rock, though they can still let rip, as on early favourite “Know Your Product”, where guitarist Barrington Francis shone. But this was mostly about Bailey, who has more stage presence than an army of attitudinal hipsters and a back catalogue to kill for.
Highlights from the new album included the wistful keyboard-based title track, and then they revved up to play “Just Like Fire Would” (“a Bruce Springsteen cover”) and “Perfect Day” (their big UK single), though curiously not “I'm Stranded”, the song that had EMI chasing them. No matter. Bailey is still writing great songs, firing up the old ones, and as entertaining live as ever.