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First, the bad news. To watch Tindersticks (right) live, you'd think they were in the dentist's waiting-room rather than on stage. Such is the public sombreness and icy superiority of this Nottingham six-piece, they are a prime victim of parody in some quarters. The good news, thankfully, is very good. Their new second album is breathtakingly superb and bittersweet of narrative. Much superlative puff will praise the silver-thread violins, cinematically lucid melodies and singer Stuart Staples's subterranean voice. But all that needs remembering is this: the songs are awesome. France will make it number one for ever. In America, like Portishead, they will pleasantly startle Brit sceptics. Britain's music press, meanwhile, will guffaw about the album being one frayed-gold-edged, 70-minute suicide note. To which the track "My Sister" is an answer. Stuart mumbles a monologue about a beloved sibling who turns blind at the age of five, burns down their house at 10 (causing their cat's death and their dad to walk out), regains her sight, has an affair with a teacher at 15, is paralysed down one side at 20 and dies at 32. Okay. We believe you have a sense of humour. A sick one. If the Bloomsbury Theatre show did, as purported, sell out in three hours, it was undoubtedly because an attending 26-strong orchestra will give songs old and new the lavish, dreamy full works. The string company won't be around for the proper tour in May. A night of sophisticated bliss for those who chased a ticket early enough.

Tindersticks, Sun 7.30pm, Bloomsbury Theatre, WC2