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Trudie Robinson gets goosebumps at The Bridgewater Hall

Published on October 6th 2008.


When The Hungry Saw came out in April of this year it had been five years since Waiting For The Moon, Tindersticks last album proper. A lot’s happened in that time: solo projects, an album for kids called Songs For The Young At Heart, oh yeah and the departure of half the band including multi-instrumentalist and founder member Dickon Hinchcliffe. Not that you’d think it to see the line-up on stage at The Bridgewater Hall, the number was in double figures and featured a small string and brass section.

Tindersticks formed in Nottingham in 1991 from the remnants of Asphalt Ribbons, though it was more a case of a band adopting a name change as the line-up was the same, bar one member. Over seven studio albums and two soundtracks for films by French director Claire Denis (more are imminent), Tindersticks have created a small but loyal cult following both here in the UK and on the continent. They’ve become known for their fragile, often melancholic songs, in particular those found on Tindersticks II and Curtains, its follow up. Occasionally on these earlier albums an upbeat number will surprise, indeed on 1999’s “Simple Pleasures” and 2001’s “Can Our Love” a more soul feel emerged. The latest album is sparser and echoes all their previous works; the maudlin, the soul and the soundtrack are all to be found here. Something for every Tindersticks fan.

But first the support, the aptly selected Sara Lowes and her extensive band featuring more siblings than Spandau Ballet ever mustered. Lowes peppered her set with self-deprecating comments, apologising for anything that she thought wasn’t quite right - not that we noticed. Reminiscent of an early Kate Bush in places, in one number she was showcasing her ethereal whimsy and for the next, gathering her band to kick in with a livelier number.

And on to the main act; as if to the soundtrack of their own film, one by one Tindersticks and the extended members of the band took to the stage to the slow cinematic climb of “Intro” from the new album; the languorous tinkle of keyboard, joined by a guitar then the string section leading to the soft, slow build up of a mournful brass section.

With singer Stuart Staples inevitably the last to join the line-up, they moved off into the first two tracks, both of which were from the new album, the almost upbeat acoustics of “The Flicker of a Little Girl” followed by the slower, soul-ly “Yesterdays Tomorrows”, both (of course) cut through with Staples' unmistakeable deep, dark vocals. Elsewhere in the set the latest single, “Boobar”, blends the delicate with the sanguine and threatens to become a Tindersticks anthem plus there’s more than a touch of Motown in the harmonising backing vocals.

The new album tracks show that they’ve not left behind the ethereally beautiful songs that can literally take away the breath. Or they at least make you realise that you’ve been sat there holding your breath with tears welling in your eyes. Here with echoes of the second and third albums was “All The Love”, a simple, pared down arrangement.

Old favourites were reprised to contented sighs from the audience, including a rare outing for “Travelling Light” - originally a duet with Carla Torgerson on Tindersticks II - and the wonderful mournful longing of “She’s Gone” from the same album.

The band opened the encore with “Simple Pleasures’” cover of Odyssey’s “If You’re Looking For a Way Out” and finally rounding off with a song, ‘so old it was written in Nottingham,’ “The Not Knowing” from the first album, leaving all in the room with goose bumps that were nothing to do with an over zealous air conditioning system.

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Hieronymous BiffOctober 6th 2008.

Indeed. I thought the synchronised hi-energy dance routines needed a little work, other than that they were perfect.

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