KD Lang @ Birmingham Symphony Hall – 1st August 2008


Truth be told, I went to review KD Lang at the Symphony Hall at the last minute and it’s fair to say that I’m one of the many people who are aware of her because of her private life rather than her back catalogue. Thankfully I did have some time to brush up on her recording history.


Before the main event was a performance of solo piano works by Dustin O’Halloran, half of the Devics collaboration with Sara Lov and recent contributor to the score of Sofia Copolla’s film ‘Marie Antionette’. His delicate pieces made good use of the grandly expansive yet nicely intimate Symphony Hall.

There was a nice buzz of anticipation for the main act and she didn’t make her fans wait too long. Dressed in a bright white, three-piece suit, she joined the rest of the band on stage and took her applause before beginning her set with a pleasantly woozy ‘Upstream’.


After that encouraging start things, for me at least, started to slip. It’s odd going to review an artist when you’re seemingly the only person in the room not thrown into raptures by the slightest thing but I found too many of the subsequent songs sliding by unremarkably.

Lang’s performance was more engaging. Although not overly chatty with the crowd (which, after some cringe-inducing banter from the audience, was understandable) she capered about gamely during one song, played up to the camper element of ‘Smoke Rings’ and joked with her backing band.


The setlist drew in songs from across Lang’s large back catalogue, with early appearances for her cover of Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’, ‘Thread’, ‘Western Stars’ and ‘Coming Home’. Her 2004 album of cover songs ‘Hymns of the 49th Parallel’ was revisited later with Jane Siberry’s ‘The Valley’ and a version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. Bafflingly, the latter made some rise from their seats in appreciation; my companion and I (both Jeff Buckley fans) had a rather different urge to leave ours.

Two encores and standing ovations showed that the show went down a storm with her fans, but personally I found little to enjoy. It all seemed too sterile, safe and smooth – the musical equivalent of Saturday tea-time TV.

Review – Chris Unitt
Photos – Karl Bright

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *