I almost didn’t make it out to the St. Lucia show on Sunday, January 26th at the Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis. It was Grammy night and redonkulously cold—which made it very tempting to skip the show in favor of the couch and a warm beverage! Then I started thinking about how awful it is to haul a bunch of music gear in horrible weather and decided that merely attending the show was really the better end of the deal—so off I went into the polar vortex!
It turned out to be a really great night with a full house at the Fine Line. The opening act Sir Sly—a band from LA—warmed up the night with a really solid set of radio-friendly, pop-rock songs. I’ve been listening to their YouTube channel since the show and I predict they will be very popular soon!
Sir Sly—Easy Now
Then it was onto the main act! St. Lucia is one of those bands that had me wondering—is it a guy? Or is it a band? The answer it seems is both! Founder Jean-Philip Grobler—originally from South Africa and active in music pretty much since birth—took his time getting to this part of his music journey. His career has taken him from Africa to England and most recently New York where he wrote and produced music for himself and others while working a day job at the The Lodge.
When The Night is St. Lucia’s first full-length record and Grobler wrote and produced the eleven-song album on his own. The touring band includes Ross Clark (Bass/Guitar/Vocals), long time girlfriend Patti Beranek (Keyboard/Vocals—she is also featured on the album quite a bit), Nicky Paul (Keyboards/Percussion) and new drummer Dustin Kaufman who comes from the world of jazz. Note: Nick Brown played live drums on the album.
The St. Lucia sound is full of heady synth-pop goodness that oozes eighties-inspired love and culture.
St. Lucia seems to live in the same ethereal head space as acts like M83 and Beach House—yet Grobler’s vocals definitely stand out as strong and blissfully Auto-Tune free. I found myself pulling out albums by ABC, Simple Minds, Aztec Camera, Seal and Berlin while writing this blog because there were certain elements in the music (a synth sound in one song, a chord change in another) that triggered memories of these bands. I love how each generation of music informs the next and St. Lucia is definitely doing work that offers a progression rather than a strict reinvention of sounds past.
Jean-Philip Grobler of St. Lucia at Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis
Exactly what you hear on the album is what you get with the live show. In some ways I preferred the live show because parts of the album are mastered a bit hot for my taste—something I’m noticing with a number of recent releases. However, When The Night is a really good record—with solid songwriting, arrangements and beautiful sounds both analog and digital. I loved the live performances of The Night Comes Again, Closer Than This, Elevate, September, When The Night and the fun cover they did of Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody featuring backups by their sound engineer.
While they were in Minneapolis, St. Lucia also had a wonderful interview with Mary Lucia (pronounced lou-chee-ah) of MPR’s The Current and played a set in the Current Studio with live performances of All Eyes On You, Elevate & The Way You Remembered Me that you’ll definitely want to check out!
Hopefully St. Lucia will come back soon—we sure loved seeing them and really appreciated their delivering an amazing show on such a brutally cold night! Check out their website for tour information!
(Special thanks to the cute crew member who nabbed the list for me!)
The Night Comes Again (When The Night)
The Old House Is Gone (St. Lucia EP)
Before The Dive (St. Lucia EP)
Closer Than This (When The Night)
Wait For Love (When The Night)
We Got It Wrong (When The Night)
All Eyes On You (When The Night)
Elevate (When The Night)
Ain’t Nobody (Chaka Khan cover—featuring amazing vocals by their sound engineer whose name I wish I knew!)
Paper Heart (St. Lucia EP)
The Way You Remember Me (When The Night)
Too Close (When The Night)
September (When The Night)
When The Night (When The Night)