A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Tindersticks / The Unthanks, Le Bataclan, Paris, 03/05/10

I made quite an exciting trip to Paris last weekend to see Tindersticks play a show at Le Bataclan.

My first impressions of the venue were positive - it was smaller and more intimate than I had imagined, with an upper balcony. The official capacity seems to be 1500 but it didn't really look big enough to accomodate this number I thought. In terms of comparing it to a London venue I would say maybe it came closest to a smaller version of The Kentish Town Forum, although this does not really do it justice.

Support came from modern-trad folk outfit The Unthanks. Quite ironic how I go all the way to Paris for a gig and end up seeing a band from my hometown, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I had seen them a few years ago at The Borderline (when they were known as Rachel Unthank & The Winterset, and were only a four-piece as opposed to the eight-piece they had grown to tonight). 

I had read that gig-goers in Paris generally tend to arrive late so I decided just to get to the venue shortly after the opening time printed on the ticket (i.e. 20:00). I got the Metro to Oberkampf, headed to Le Bataclan and noticed the doors were already open and The Unthanks were already on stage.  The venue was not so full so I was able to get a place close to the front. I'm not sure how long they had been playing for but I managed to catch them play four songs - 'Lucky Gilchrist', 'Annachie Gordon', 'Sad February' & 'Here's The Tender Coming' which all sounded great. I love Rachel's voice, so pure and clear. During 'Lucky Gilchrist' they did a bit of 'clog dancing' (as Rachel explained to the crowd, promising them that it would soon be in vogue in Paris). They chose to thank the crowd with 'mercis' rather than 'thank yous'. Nice/slightly unusual to hear some Geordie accents in Paris.

I had seen Tindersticks play a great concert at Shepherd's Bush Empire in March (I blogged about it here). If honest I hoped they may play a slightly different set in Paris but knew that this was a little unlikely (so it proved).

I think the set went approximately like this:

Falling Down A Mountain
Keep You Beautiful
Sometimes It Hurts
She Rode Me Down
Hubbards Hill
Marseilles Sunshine
The Other Side Of The World
Black Smoke
Factory Girls
A Night In
Harmony Around My Table

Dying Slowly
Can We Start Again?

All The Love

Generally quite a similar set to Shepherd's Bush Empire, although disappointingly they chose to finish with 'All The Love', whereas in London they finished with 'City Sickness'. I do like 'All The Love' but 'City Sickness' really would have been a perfect ending to a brilliant show. When they came back on Stuart mentioned how they had "had an argument backstage" on what song to close with "and he won". I guess the others wanted 'City Sickness'. They also played 'Marseilles Sunshine', a Stuart Staples solo track. The new album sounded good again, really soulful and maybe a little lighter than their previous work. As ever, Stuart seemed totally consumed with delivering the vocals as perfectly as possible, agonising over every syllable. The reaction from the crowd started off enthusiastically, before soon reaching rapturous levels towards the end, with prolonged periods of sustained applause forcing the band to pause for it to subside. It certainly eclipsed the London show in terms of atmosphere. Stuart commented that "we don't really have a home but this could be it" (or words to that effect), quite appropriate given their recent soundtracks to French films (check out '35 Shots Of Rum' for their latest work).

It was good to hear 'Tie-Dye', strobes flickering intensely across the stage as feedback-supplemented chords rang out from the guitars. I have recently come to love 'The Other Side Of The World' also, in particular the quasi-existentialist lyrics. 'A Night In' and 'Bathtime' were spine-tinglingly good as usual and the three songs that usually feature female vocalists ('Sometimes It Hurts', 'Peanuts' and 'Can We Start Again?') didn't really suffer without them. 'Black Smoke' and 'Harmony Around My Table' are about as close to indie-pop that Tindersticks get and sounded really vibrant and (uncharacteristically) optimistic. 

So, another excellent gig. Hopefully next time they tour we might get to hear some different older songs. I had really hoped they might fit in their cover of Odyssey's 'If You're Looking For A Way Out',  from their 'Simple Pleasure' album. I had listened to it pretty much on a daily basis for the weeks leading up to the gig. Oh well, maybe one day...

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