This was one of the ‘Don’t Look Back’ series organised by ATP, where a variety of artists play a one off gig. The setlist is the track listing of their iconic album. What a genius idea.. tonight, it’s the turn of a favourite in the Strange household. As the band are no longer in existence, we scrambled for tickets and headed off in the knowledge that a rare and beautiful event was about to unfold. The album in question was Tindersticks II… all agog and even shivery in anticipation.
We spent the day happily in Brick Lane and Spitalfields, watching the young and trendy. Sandwiches by the river at the Barbican, then inside to browse the shop, get warm, find the toilets.. and our seats.
This place is amazing. Built in an amphitheatre, with curved rows of seats made of the same golden wood as the floor, and in a seamless piece, it’s a beautiful, cathedric venue. Comfortable, yet clearly designed to focus attention on one place – the altar/stage. We were in the Circle, three rows back and slap bang in the centre for a fantastic view. Seats are fine. Tindersticks aren’t a band to pogo to – sitting back and reflecting, marvelling, is the way to go.
The warm up (‘support’ and ‘act’ aren’t really applicable) was a slightly rotund favourite mad uncle figure playing jazz on an old record cabinet thing that just folded up and got wheeled off at the end, all the instruments set up round him.. he bowed and waved at the end, his departure marked by goodnatured applause.
The arrival of the band caused a frisson –not like you normally get, most of us are of a certain age, you know – but a very excited buzz. There’s a mini orchestra.. cello, viola, violins, mostly. Apart from that they’re a simple band to stage manage. Instruments laid out, an extra guitar or two.. No one moves much anyway, except to swap instruments every now and again. They don’t say much, either. Stuart’s opening line of ‘We all know what’s going to happen now’ is all the banter we get, before the band swing into action. Tight, subtle sound, deceptively simple layers of it creating the mood. Each tambourine shake or tiny note is carefully considered . Stuart’s voice is as dark, slow and deep and treacle, with the sweetness of pain, not joy. There’s little hope in the lyrics, though you may find some in the music. This is not Emo sharing. It’s melancholic sharing of heart and mind. Inner stories, inviting no pity or even actually asking to be heard. The narratives are spellbinding and poignant – lives in microcosm that seem to be spoken even when sung. ‘My Sister’ even with its catalogue of disasters, holds individual events that you can relate to. And ‘She’s Gone’ can easily make me sniffle. The only one that fell flat was ‘Travelling Light’.. to me, it needs that second voice, and it lost some of it’s meaning, without.
This must be the only gig I’ve been to where the encore was longer than the set, and then we had two more encores! It was worth every penny and more. ‘My Sister’ was the last, played again because they weren’t happy with the first rendition. I went home without the usual wild joy and ringing ears of a good gig, but with a deep satisfaction that meant as much, and is less transient.
El diablo en el ojo
A Night In
Snowy in F# minor
Talk To Me
No More Affairs
Any more than that, I was far too excited to remember, and quite honestly, it really doesn’t matter what, it’s HOW.
Rumours are of a comeback. Which would be lovely, thank you.