Thursday, March 12th, 2009
The Hungry Saw
Tindersticks and Elfin Saddle at The Opera House in Toronto
Frank YangEven before setting foot in the Opera House on Tuesday night, you knew it wasn’t going to be a typical evening – security wasn’t bothering to check anyone’s ID, as the odds of someone underage wanting to sneak into a Tindersticks were pretty much slim to none. The audience for the veteran Brits, on their first North American tour in half a decade in support of their first album in just as long – last year’s The Hungry Saw – skewed older to say the least.
Support on the Canadian dates were Montreal’s Elfin Saddle, a duo expanded to trio for live performance and whose principals set up seated behind small fortresses of unusual musical instruments. They sounded like what you might expect to hear if you were traversing the hills of medieval England and just happened to stumble across a Japanese temple built into a Gregorian monastery – a strange and fascinating combination of Eastern and Western sounds from long ago, not so much blended as tied together with wire and string. Definitely unique.
I’ve fully admitted to being a Tindersticks neophyte, but after their show I can also declare myself a total convert. They began with each player taking the stage one by one as they built up “Introduction”, the instrumental opener from The Hungry Saw, from nothing to perfection and thus set the tone for the night and that tone was one of effortless elegance. The seven-piece band of guitar, bass, drums, keys, horns and of course Stuart Staples’ inimitable croon were the very definition of class up there, grand yet understated, in creating an atmosphere like a suspended breath or the very last dance of the evening – like one of those fleeting moments you want to last forever.
And while not forever, their 90-minute set still felt like a gift, one which the enraptured crowd didn’t take for granted if their almost utter silence throughout the show was any indication (enthusiastic applause aside). Though Staples’ interaction with the audience was minimal – we got a “hello” and an “I already said hello” – it was obvious from the looks on he and founding guitarist Neil Fraser that they were fully enjoying this return to action after so long away. The setlist – punctuated with lovely instrumental interludes throughout – drew heavily on The Hungry Saw, so even though my knowledge of their catalog was limited the show still felt warm and enveloping. And as for the songs I didn’t know, while their words and melodies may have been unfamiliar, their language of sumptuous melancholy was one I’m quite fluent in and nothing was lost in translation. Simply a stunning show, top to bottom.
Photos: Tindersticks, Elfin Saddle @ The Opera House – March 10, 2009
MP3: Tindersticks – “The Hungry Saw”
MP3: Elfin Saddle – “Temple Daughter”
Video: Tindersticks – “Can Our Love…”
Video: Tindersticks – “The Art Of Lovemaking”
Video: Tindersticks – “Rented Rooms”
Video: Tindersticks – “Dying Slowly”
Video: Tindersticks – “Can We Start Again?”
Video: Tindersticks – “No More Affairs”
Video: Tindersticks – “City Sickness”
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are releasing a new 7″ on March 31, the a-side of which you can download below, perhaps as an excuse to continue touring – they’re at Lee’s Palace on April 28. They’re also playing every show and showcase at SxSW next week. I was going to play a little game called “Try not to see POBPAH in Austin” but that would pretty much require me to not leave my hotel, and even then I don’t think I’d be safe.
Forest City Lovers say hello with both a new download, a live acoustic track from a few years back, and a lovely new video. Kat Burns is playing a solo show at Rolly’s Garage on April 4 before the band heads out on a European tour (!). Their next local show is June 27 at the Tranzac for the Zunior anniversary. Burns gives Anika In London her guide to Toronto.