The Tenniscoats, Café Kino, Bristol 1/10/2013

Like so many things in life, I have Glasgow to thank for introducing me to The Tenniscoats. Until their joint album, Two Sunsets (2009) made with Scottish indie heroes The Pastels, I was unaware of the fragile beauty that they provide. To promote that album the two bands shared a stage at The Thekla. Then in June 2011 The Tenniscoats returned on their own to play in the intimate surroundings of Café Kino.

When dates were announced for a short UK tour this year, there was no Bristol date. Cue much tutting and frowning in this house. Then miraculously and at very short notice we heard that another visit to Café Kino had been arranged, so we excitedly made our way to Café Kino on an early autumn evening. Admirable support was provided by Will Newsome and I Know I Have No Collar, whilst vegan treats were brought from the cafe upstairs to the pleasantly busy crowd below.

Saya and Takahi Uno then took to the stage and the world just melted around them. The songs could not really be more simple, mostly just an acoustic guitar and a voice. Sometimes they hang by a thread, haunting refrains strummed and sung; yet they pull everyone into their special world. As the majority of the songs are sung in Japanese, most of us haven’t a clue what the songs are about but the wonderful, gentle humanity of the performance sweeps us along.

That’s not to say that the evening is without fun and laughter, there is plenty of that. Various local musicians edge their way through backing duties, clutching tightly to the their phonetic Japanese lyric sheet. Occasionally the whole performance collapses in a fit of nervous giggles. Unexpectedly the gig finished with a beautiful version of the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah, a song once so treasured but almost lost to us a few years ago as a victim of mass, some would say crass, overexposure. The Tenniscoats returned the song to its simple heartfelt beauty, a fitting end to a lovely evening. The room was bathed in smiles as people slowly moved towards their homes.

Please note the picture is from the 2011 gig at Cafe Kino.