After a couple of years away recording her third album Birmingham Academy plays host to KT Tunstall this evening.
Tunstall has had varied success over the years since the release of her debut album ‘Eye To The Telescope’. Achieving universal critical acclaim with this album and many prestigious awards nominations her second album ‘Dramatic Fantastic’ failed to equal this success. Having said that any live televised performance I have seen, KT Tunstall always showed something original and exciting for the pop music scene. Back with her new album ‘Tiger Suit’ the Academy is close to full and I immediately notice the mass appeal she has with the audience ranging from young to old and couples to families, quite unusual but refreshing to see.
She skips on stage with her band full of enthusiasm and the crowd join in with this vibe. Tonight for KT Tunstall it’s going to be about showcasing her new material and after her first couple of songs she announces, “I’m going to play song from my new album”. After a short pause she snipes, “and if you don’t like it boo, and I will flick you the V’s”! She oozes attitude this girl but rather than abrupt she carries it in an amusing way and it’s totally endearing to hear an artist speak their mind in this way.
‘Universe and U’ and ‘Other Side of the World’ are the first better-known song and the pace slows for these perfect pop ballads with punch. For ‘Universe and U’, she is entirely captivating on stage…no one moves in the stalls and on the balcony people are perched on the each of their seat just to get a little closer.
Her band are clearly important to her and she brings them all to the front to introduce them personally. Having a joke and a play the friendship and rapport they have is funny in itself to watch. Her band leaves for ‘Other Side of the World’ and she is left in the centre on the large stage all alone. The attention of the audience never waivers and for me I could be standing with 3 other people rather than a packed auditorium. Not once is she overshadowed and throughout the set she plays guitar (which she changes to a different one between every song), a drum and even a kazoo none the less.
She is a performer of great statue who has honed her craft and what she does is done incredibly well. She informs that she is going to sing new song ‘Skinny Lou’; one she has not yet even performed. Telling the audience, “If I forget the words, who cares! You’re in already.” Which receives rapturous laughter from the audience. She takes it from a new song to her one of her classics and debut single ‘Black Horse and a Cherry Tree’. Doing this in her unique style by using a loop pedal to create the whole song piece by piece. It is spine tingling good and is amazing to watch something that’s probably not that easy to master, be done so effortlessly, as at the end of the day this is what she does! It’s easy to see why she is known for her live performances.
The involvement with the audience is always there telling antidotes of her time away to write the third album and about her recent trip to the Arctic. She did mention she didn’t realise that Birmingham in March would be just as cold! As a girl from the crowd shouts, “Another Place To Fall”, (one of Tunstall’s earlier song), She replies, “Yip, that’s one of mine”, and then swiftly moves on. Her quick wit is, delivered like a comedian responding to a heckler, is just pushing home the fact its about ‘Tiger Suit’ tonight
The energy KT Tunstall possesses on stage is infectious and for the whole gig my eye barely moved as they where transfixed towards the stage. With the festivals approaching this summer and Tunstall already scheduled to be at a few I would urge you this is one act that needs to be seen live.
Review – Ross Metcalfe
Photos – Ian Dunn