Tindersticks at the National Concert Hall, Dublin
“Any chance of a sad song?” yelled a bolshy member of the audience at Tindersticks’ first show in Ireland since 2013. Although depicted as a bunch of sad bastards, the atmosphere in the National Concert Hall felt celebratory as the band played selections from a 30 year career.
After a sparse rendition of Willow, the band got into their groove with A Night So Still and Medicine. What was really noticeable was Neil Fraser’s guitar playing which you could nearly float away on, at times evoking Vini Reilly. Sleepy Song featured startling brass from Terry Edwards before the band tore into an aggressive version of the mariachi-tinged Her. At the centre of things was singer Stuart Staples. While not a vocalist to everyone’s taste, his voice was central to these songs, and his singing on My Oblivion was just excellent. He appeared to enjoy the concert as much as the audience, often appearing lost in the moment.
The band were joined by an orchestra for soaring renditions of Another Night In and City Sickness. Newer songs such as How He Entered and Both Sides of the Blade fared equally as well with the orchestra. After a cover of Peggy Lee’s Johnny Guitar, Gina Foster joined the band to duet with Staples on a fine version of Travelling Light, staying to join David Boulter on backing vocals for My Oblivion and Show Me Everything. It was noticeable how well their post 90s material was received, and all the while Neil Fraser’s understated guitar playing really added to the songs.
An encore featuring My Sister was always going to go down well, while audience and orchestra clapped along on a ‘fun’ version of Harmony Around My Table. Finishing with Tiny Tears, the band received a deserved standing ovation. The set felt like a venue-appropriate soundtrack as Tindersticks avoided some of their grimier songs, but this band do what they do really, really well, there really is no one quite like them. Let’s hope it’s not another 9 years till they return!