KT Tunstall @ Symphony Hall, 27 February 2023
KT Tunstall transported the audience of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall from a mundane Monday to a thrilling Saturday night with her electrifying performance and signature sound, following the release of her latest album last year, ‘NUT’. With her witty banter and infectious energy, she treated the audience to a mix of old and new songs from her entire discography, including hits from Eye to the Telescope such as “Other Side of the World” and “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” as well as tracks from WAX and the entire NUT, with only 9 songs long.
NUT is the third record from KT Tunstall’s trilogy, which is a significant project that explores different aspects of the soul, body, and mind. According to Tunstall, the album’s title was inspired by a Scottish phrase, “Dinny lose yer Nut,” which means “don’t lose your temper.” She also sees the brain as a garden in which you reap what you sow, and the album artwork reflects this concept.
Kin focuses on the soul, Wax on the body, and NUT on the mind. The trilogy took seven years to complete and coincided with profound changes in the singer’s personal life. Each album is unique yet connected, and together, they offer a comprehensive exploration of what it means to be human. I believe Tunstall’s trilogy is a testament to her artistry, creativity and willingness to take risks as an artist.
The concert began with an opening act by the talented musician Andy Burrows, who was joined by his friend Stu on guitar and backing vocals. Their acoustic set was beautiful and mellow, and the crowd loved them. Burrows set the tone for an incredible night as he declared that it was a joy to be on this tour and promised to rock our world later that night.
As the lights dimmed for a second time, the crowd erupted in cheers as KT Tunstall kicked things off with I Am The Pilot, a fitting opener that set the tone for the evening with its driving beat and soaring vocals. The Scottish singer-songwriter was full of energy and seemed genuinely happy to be performing for us.
The stage was set up with a simple backdrop featuring the album cover of NUT, and the artist was joined by a group of talented musicians. The bassist, Seye Adelekan, was a standout presence on the stage. He appeared to be having a blast throughout the entire show as he waved his hair around. His enthusiasm was infectious, and he helped to create an incredible energy that filled the entire hall. Tunstall was also joined on stage by Andy Burrows on drums and Stu occasionally on guitar, who put on the amazing opening set.
Next up they transitioned seamlessly into Dear Shadow, followed by the fan-favourite Other Side of the World, which got the crowd swaying and singing along to every word.
The band then shifted gears to play the hauntingly beautiful The River before picking things back up with the energetic Demigod and the groovy Private Eyes that kept the momentum going, before Tunstall slowed things down with the introspective Hard Girls. The mood then turned to a more intimate vibe as Tunstall performed by herself a slow and delicate rendition of Scarlet Tulips from WAX.
The band returned to the stage for the lively Three before getting the crowd bouncing with Funnyman. The singer announced that it was the first time performing it on tour and might not be perfect, but it obviously didn’t disappoint. KT Tunstall also gave a shout-out to her inspiration and “queen of everything,” Stevie Nicks. She expressed her admiration for the Fleetwood Mac singer, calling her a “total goddess”.
One of the standout aspects of the concert was Tunstall’s fantastic charisma and sense of humour. She engaged with the crowd throughout the night, sharing stories and joking around between songs, and even taught us a new dance move, called a bounce. Her ability to connect with the audience was remarkable, and it made for a truly memorable experience. She joked about a petty game looking at the “musician’s ego”, citing the torches at the beginning of the set as an example, when she asked the crowd to turn on their torches and swing their hands in the air. Tunstall even tried out a Brummie accent, asking the audience “you alright bab?”, which sparked laughter and cheers.
Tunstall expressed her admiration for the rock and roll legends hailing from Birmingham and mentioned that she didn’t just want to play the well-known song “Mr. Blue Sky ”. Instead, she paid tribute to the iconic Led Zeppelin with a powerful cover of Whole Lotta Love. The crowd went wild as Tunstall and her band put their own unique spin on the classic rock anthem.
Tunstall mentioned that the “loop guy”, who is usually on the pedals, was on holiday and not present for the show, so she challenged the band to see who could do it better, humans or machines, and came to the conclusion that humans can sing pretty well too.
Next up was the all time favourite Black Horse and the Cherry Tree from the debut album Eye to the Telescope, mixed with the infectious rhythm of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), showcasing Tunstall’s versatility and range as a performer. The heartfelt Push That Knot Away was a standout moment, with Tunstall’s powerful vocals and poetic lyrics resonating with the audience.
Despite being a successful solo artist for almost two decades, Tunstall confessed that playing with a band was always a blast. “I would play with a band all the time if it wasn’t so expensive,” she jokingly whispered. She went on to explain that touring often meant playing with different musicians than those who helped record the album. That’s why she was thrilled to have the opportunity to perform with the same people she started out with, the bassist Seye Adelekan and the drummer Andy Burrows.
Synapse was a mesmerising and ethereal performance, followed by Saving My Face, a rock anthem that had the crowd clapping and singing along. Canyons closed the main set on a high note with its soaring melodies and driving rhythm. The entire room was hushed as Tunstall’s voice soared and echoed through the hall.
As the night drew to a close, Tunstall played the atmospheric Out of Touch and Brain In A Jar. The crowd went wild when the time came for Suddenly I See, the hit that catapulted KT Tunstall to fame. The audience sang along to every word, giving the singer a rousing send-off. Ending the night on a high note, Tunstall delivered a joyful and energetic performance that left the audience feeling uplifted and inspired.
Overall, KT Tunstall’s performance at the Symphony Hall was a night to remember. The crowd was lively, Tunstall was energetic and entertaining, and the band was exceptional. From the upbeat songs to the slower, emotional ones, Tunstall delivered an unforgettable performance.
1. I Am The Pilot
2. Dear Shadow
3. Other Side of the World
4. The River
6. Private Eyes
7. Hard Girls
8. Scarlet Tulips
11. Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin cover)
12. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree / Sweet Dream (Are Made of This)
13. Push That Knot Away
14. All The Time/ Tiny Love / Heal OVer
16. Saving My Face
18. Out of Touch / Brain In A Jar
19. Suddenly I See
Review and photographs by Andra Tudoran
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