London Hammersmith Palais

The genius of the [a]Tindersticks[/a] is in their inherent wobbliness; their devilishly unreliable reliability...

Pay attention. If you’re looking for the magic of the [a]Tindersticks[/a] it’s right there in front of you. No, it’s not just Stuart Staples, it’s his right leg. His magic wobbly leg which scrapes and shudders and vainly tries to persuade the rest of his body to erupt into an orgy of ‘soft-shoe shuffling’ and northern soul handclaps. The leg is the heart of the [a]Tindersticks[/a], the isolated burst of childish rebellion in an otherwise motionless stage.

If you were to carry this stupid observation further into the realms of analogy, you’d find that the genius of the [a]Tindersticks[/a] is in their inherent wobbliness; their devilishly unreliable reliability. As hipster trends have come and gone, they have single-mindedly trodden their own path, and the fact that they have filled the cavernous Palais must stand as testimony to their beautiful tunnel vision. Sure, all the songs sound the same, but, in a manner that support band Arab Strap would undoubtedly appreciate, they’re all good.

Some, inevitably, more so than others, and while the audience goes politely bonkers when Staples unveils ‘City Sickness’, the warmer, electric piano-laden flourishes of current album ‘Simple Pleasure’ offer solid affirmation of their niche-market brilliance. As the stately ‘CF GF’ and their playful rendition of the old disco hit ‘If You’re Looking For A Way Out’ show, [a]Tindersticks[/a] own the copyright on gloom.

That they have seized this disputed ground – despite the fact that Staples, with his curious vibrato vocal technique, seems incapable of enunciating any solid consonants – might allow them a furtive chuckle as they wander offstage. They’ve found their market and cornered it. For the midnight slow dances in front of the mirror, there really is no other viable option. As they move into the twilight of their first decade together, the [a]Tindersticks[/a] are more life-affirmingly downtrodden and inscrutably dour than ever. The wobbly leg marches on.

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