KT Tunstall launched her career after an amazing solo performance on the Jools Holland Show in 2007. After her debut album, Eye to the Telescope, was successful, she continued to create intimate expressive tracks with a variety of genres. Her second album, Drastic Fantastic, followed, with an electric guitar-dominated sound. Her third, Tiger Suit, gave even more up-tempo tracks. Now, after six years, her fourth album celebrates her versatility as an artist. In order to support the release of her new album, Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon, she has toured the US and UK – travelling on to Australia – in 2013. On 17th of October Tunstall performed at London’s Theatre Royal.
Cheers immediately erupted from the audience as she walked on stage and donned her guitar. The theatre venue was a dream for KT, a gig she’d always wanted to perform. By starting the set with, what she called, ‘a very new chapter’ she revealed the start of her melancholy, meaningful and personal tracks from her new album. From then on the set was a masterpiece; even though each album ranges a variety of genres, the arrangement of songs flowed seamlessly.
Most impressively, she successfully demonstrated her musical talent with her intricate use of the loop pedal. The flexibility of this tool meant she was able to support herself on stage. The complex rhythms, sounds and backing vocals enhanced her stage presence which gave a performance that filled the large theatre. She was able to use not only her voice, guitar and loop pedal, but also tapped a tambourine with her left foot. If that level of coordination isn’t talent… I don’t know what is. The initiation of each track increased the audience’s anticipation of the song, which enhanced its overall delivery.
The consolidation of a good selection of her songs had up-tempo content which was contrasted by more meaningful intimate tracks. These only required the gentle guitar melody and voice. It was clear that she was professionally capable in every sense. Too many times have gigs been incorrectly adjusted with the backing music often overpowering the vocal quality. In this set the theatre was a perfect venue with an acoustic atmospheric echo adding to the performance. The microphone was adjusted so that even the audience even on the far reaches of the balcony received the full effect of the music. This was especially apparent in a very emotional song, ‘Alchemy‘ which used both quiet and powerful vocal tones to create a beautiful moment.
She created new twists on her older favourites, which had the audience fascinated. Due to the long list of songs to her name, KT didn’t dwell on covers of mainstream songs but exposed an insight into bands she admired. She performed covers in her own way, which boosted their relevance to her and her audience.
Having been a fan of KT Tunstall since the release of her first album I was pleasantly surprised to hear the vocal range she achieves during a live show. It seems to me that her records have limited her creativity which allows her to encompass the stage and hypnotize the audience. The best aspect of the gig was the personality of the recording artist shining through. Songs were constantly joined together by witty and perceptive discussions of her influences and creative inspirations. Her jokes entertained the crowd as much as her songs did, which made the entire show even more magical. The most memorable comment was a song inspired by the book, The Giving Tree she commented that the song reflected the capitalist use of resources and was dedicated to ‘the tree, whose friends are in Ikea’. This affected the audience and throughout the song, there was silence, a clear indication of an attentive, captivated crowd.
After exiting the stage after a 1hr 15min set, KT returned to an explosive applause, where she involved the audience in a heartfelt, loud encore. A raucous, ‘Suddenly I See‘ had all the audience on their feet, cheering and screaming in admiration.
KT Tunstall personifies the meaning of a musical artist. Each song was a work of art and showed her in her element. It felt like a sneak peak into her journey of creating her successful career, but only showing a snippet of her talent and creativity. It was a pleasure to watch her perform and I recommend seeing her live to all. She deserves the success she receives as she has correctly harnessed her natural talent, providing an insight into her world. An epic experience.
Tour dates and tickets are available here.