Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 25/3/2010
published: 29 /
Antony Strutt finds the reformed Tindersticks to have lost none of their class or style at a gig to promote their new album 'The Hungry Saw', the second since they got back together
Tindersticks are curently touring with their second album since they reformed in 2007.'Falling Down a Mountain' is a far superior record to their last album, 2008's 'The Hungry Saw'. Of the original band only three members remain, volalist Stuart Staples, guitarist Neil Fraser and keyboardist and percussionist David Boulter. Terry Edwards, who sometimes plays saxophone with them, is not in the band at the moment, but they do have a name new full time member in guitarist and vocalist David Kitt. The other main difference is their use of strings which were originally violin-based and are now played on cello or double bass.
They open their set with the title track of 'Falling Down a Mountain'. This is very loud, long and drawn out, teasing the crowd who are jam packed in this venue, which been home to several gigs by the band in the past. This instantly restores my faith in the band. In comparison to the album version, 'Falling Down a Mountain' live has more of an Echo and the Bunnymen feel to it. Stuart seems to be happier on stage than he has been during recent London shows. His singing shines much more, even though he can no longer smoke as he used to on stage. He conducts the whole band and crowd like a masterful conductor. By the end of this first number, the band have the whole crowd completely in awe of them.
'Keep You Beautiful' is elegant, beautiful and flows in a jazzy manner. 'Sometimes It Hurts' is an old school Tindersticks number, upon which the cello replacing the violin parts is especially prominent. 'Marbles', an early single, is a song that is told in a narrative way.
'Bathtime' is a big piano-based number. 'Marseilles Sunshine' is played at a snail's pace. 'Hubbards Hill' is an instrumental, played without Stuart whom has probably popped out the back door for a fag.
'Peanuts' is sung by Stuart entirely and not as a duet as it is on record. He plays a fine mouth organ solo on this. 'Dying Slowly' and 'The Other Side of the World' are both very slow and full of both sadness and sorrow.
'Tyed' comes from their self-titled 1993 first album and is very experimental and loud, its black moods absolutely perfect. 'Black Smoke' is the current 7 inch single and is new age Tindersticks, quite fast paced and you can even dance to it. It has a soulful element which adds depth to the band.
'Factory Girls' is slow and about alcohol. 'A Night In' is the sound of what Tinderstiks do best. It has a massive sound, well played, and Stuart sounds on it like Scott Walker at his best. 'Harmony Around My Table' ends the main set and is a mature song about eating around the family table.
For the first song Stuart mumbles through 'No Man in the World', going through the track at a snail's pace. The music is nothing short of stunning and beautiful. 'Can We Start Again?' has the crowd clapping along and shows the band as party pleasers.
They return for a second encore with a stunning version of 'City Sickness', The original video for this never made their DVD of videos, which is a shame as it was directed by Jarvis Cocker. 'Raindrops' from their first album ends the night and shows us all why we all fell in love with them in the first place.
They remain a classy and superior band.