Tindersticks - Live in San Sebastian 2012
Some way past midnight, in the hotel bar you visited by mistake a band is playing. The lights are low, the stage muted. The crowd is thinning, a mix of drunks, lost romantics and those hoping that tomorrow's odds to maybe more in their favour. The table lights flicker, the atmosphere thickens - a mix of spent celebration and too raw regrets. It's the end of the universe and no one feels fine. The band on stage is, of course, Tindersticks.
To the uninitiated let's try and pin down Nottingham's finest. In many ways they're like One Direction: they have male band members; they often sing of love. Where they start to differ is perhaps with a slightly less bouncy outlook on life and are less likely to appear on tweenage girls’ bedroom walls. There's an accusation of them being an acquired taste with some stuggling to get past lead singer Stuart Staple's tortured crooner stylings. To the fully initiated, each new release of crafted musical kitchen-sink dramas are eagerly awaited, even after 20 years and nine studio albums.
This album is a recording of a live concert in San Sabastian from earlier in the year. For a live album the audience are almost absent from the mix, appearing only to applaud at the end of some tracks and demand an encore before closing track 'Goodbye Joe'. What's left is a representation of a band very much at ease in their setting and their songs, which they deliver perfectly. You'd think they were the product of weeks in a recording studio not a one-time recording of a band in concert. The live setting adds a vibrancy to their sound which is rounded out with a wonderful horn section.
The songs are mostly from their recent back catalogue. They’re slow burners full of textures, some lights but mostly shades. They're the louche lounge bar act you thought you'd never need in your life but once you start to listen they become your life's soundtrack. Live albums are normally just for fans but this is a good a starting place as any to discover a band at ease with their music - and the abyss that some call their hearts.