February 2nd, 2009
(Photo credit to red nails, wrongcity)
“Hungry Saw” was not a favorite Tindersticks record of mine when it was released. Aside from abut three or four cuts, it struck me as a very respectable effort which suffered from mediocre performances & material in its first half and which was lopsidedly rich in emotion and re-playability in its second. No Curtains, but what the hell is?
But last night, live, the record — which they played in its entirety aside from a middle suite of older material and an encore — ripened and grew into itself, lent strength by the urgency of the band’s delivery. Terry Edwards and the brass/woodwinds accompaniments in general helped the songs reach intense emotional swells of force only hinted at in studio. And Stuart with his slight bodily stutter, his seductive and slightly-medicated sway, his maracas-shaking rhythm-keeping, helped fulfill each “Hungry Saw” song to what was promised on record.
I recognized many of the songs as if for the first time, like people who I’d seen through rainy windows. “Yesterdays Tomorrows” is a good example, lent drama onstage which never hit me on LP. “E-type” too was so amped with swagger & sheer drive. “Boobar”, a favorite of mine on record, emerged stronger live as well — the band storming out of the hushed bridges, jovial and grinning at one another, mastering the song’s swells in and out of hush and gentleness.
Total truism, but this is why seeing music live matters. To see loved songs not so much transformed as fulfilled, like sketches blooming with color before your eyes — to have your later listenings enriched with memory, as if memory was another instrument, another section in the orchestra — there aren’t words for that magic.
My only disappointment is the continued absence of Dickon Hinchcliffe [I think it was your standard creative-differences split between he and Staples, but not sure] — or some other live violin player capable of rounding out the Tindersticks’ sound with some of Hinchcliffe’s gorgeous arrangements. Hinchcliffe’s contributions to the band’s sound were enormous, defining — and I miss his touch on “Hungry Saw”, I miss his baroque and anguished lines, his dissonances, his sweep and pathos, and his soulful vocal lines on “Waiting for the Moon” and “Can our Love…”. Still, they did a hell of a job live trying to patch over the hole left by his leaving.
Other things I remember –
“My Oblivion”, that swoony crescendoing opiate, a little edgier than on record, absolute fucking lotus.
“My Sister” — I song I never expected to hear live — played with a palpable sense of discovery and spell-casting by the ensemble, especially the delicate otherwordly percussion in the beginning, and that pindrop-hush interlude — the “orange and mustard planets” passage — executed as it needs to be: with wonder, tragedy, enchantment.
Stuart’s gentle, endearing, half-lidded way with the audience and with his band; his searing, brief solos and tremolo-bar chords at the end of “Her”.
What a band. By turns morose, noirish, soul crooning & fanfaring; day of the dead, lullaby gondola-sway, flamenco explosive, carny wobble; raking up love’s gutters and tambourining amid the refuse.
What does everyone else think? Who went?
C. Way/ SnailCrow.com © 2009