The Barbican Theatre, London offers a simple backdrop to the London leg of KT Tunstall’s tour to promote her album ‘Kin’.
It’s been a while since she has been in the public eye, but she embraces the audience like an old friend as she runs on in gold sparkly trousers, commenting ‘Well, this is very fancy!’
A mutual natural warmth spreads through the auditorium. She is very likeable. After encouraging the audience to clap to a beat, she begins with ‘Minature Disasters’. Her voice, a dirty gravelly sound, sings along to her acoustic guitar and the lights flood her in red.
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There is a vulnerability to the lone figure on stage which contrasts greatly with her powerful vocals and her cheery disposition.
Throughout the gig, she talks of her life – inviting the crowd into it. Why she left the music scene, what she was doing and what enticed her to return. Tales of her life in Venice Beach, California; musical influences including ‘Fleetwood Mac’, ‘Tom Petty’ ‘Joni Mitchell’ and ‘Chet Baker’; her first appearance on TV with ‘Later … With Jools Holland’; and her first gig in London (The Barfly, Camden now known as The Camden Assembly) fill the air. It is easy to believe you know her. Her stage presence is an intimate one.
She owns the stage, and she has to, there is no one else on it. She is clearly a grafter, relentless in her desire to entertain her audience. Small recording machines stand around her, one of which is Pete the Drummer, and she creates all the music for all the songs, including backing vocals.
Her enthusiasm ignites the audience. If you want to watch, be prepared to participate, she feeds off it. She is constantly bouncing, her voice constantly singing / talking to us (she should try her hand at stand-up comedy – she’s a funny woman), she creates a party that everyone wants to be a part of.
She sings her old songs, the ones everyone knows her for and changes them, playing with the beats and tempos.
There are guitar changes, instrument changes, covers of her own work and others’ (you can choose what you want her to cover on social media before the show). There are mashups that work brilliantly. ‘The Bangles’’ ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ sewn beautifully into ‘Hold On’ and ‘The White Stripes’’ ‘Seven Nations Army’ makes an appearance with ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’
Acoustic guitar, electric guitar and piano all take a lead in her songs and she is accomplished on each. Her voice is impressive, never wavering. She moves from strong raw rough sounds to delicate soft ones heard in ‘Invisible Empire’ and ‘Yellow Flower’ and then back again.
‘Suddenly I See’ ends the set. The audience is up and dancing, singing along to what has been, strangely, an intimate night, even Tunstall remarks on it being like a date. This is an evening of comedy and live music. Go, and go with the desire to join in.
‘Kin’ is out now via Caroline Records
Photo Credit : www.mowphotography.co.uk