KT Tunstall at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
“It’s been a weird day hasn’t it?” was KT Tunstall’s opening line to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. She couldn’t have been more right. On the day Donald Trump was announced the 45th US President, the charming Scotswoman from this first world seemed the perfect antidote to an outside world on the brink of madness.
Self-confessedly channelling the musical mastery of the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Tom Freund – having been playing their tunes top volume driving through her new-found hometown of Venice Beach, LA – Tunstall’s uplifting folk rock gig was just what was needed when she and everyone else was feeling “mentally unstable”.
Down to earth, refreshingly authentic and skillfully engaging every person in the packed-out venue, Tunstall was as much sassy standup comedian as she was talented singer-songwriter. Kicking off with track If Only, she kept the energy high and didn’t miss a bridge between old and new songs to tell one or other anecdote, drawing in an already attentive audience to share in her musical narrative: each song had its own story and relatable emotion driving it.
New album numbers Hard Girls, It Took Me So Long to Get Here (But Here I Am), stunning KIN, and a duet with James Bay, Two Way, performed with bassist Solomon Dorsey, proved the singer could still deliver on her unique brand of poppy folk rock. Unfailingly self-deprecating yet confident, there was a name drop-for Dave Grohl and she even tied the crowd into performing with her – including the “seal bit” of Maybe That’s a Good Thing.
The performer moved seamlessly between jump up and down hair flinging rock-outs to emotion-filled acoustics, at many times dismissing her band to hold the stage alone with her guitar (with “This machine kills fascists” writ large) and loop-pedal. She intertwined excerpts of The Bangles’ Walk like an Egyptian, The White Stripe’s Seven Nation Army and some impressive beat boxing – just to keep the audience on their toes.
Though her fresh material was well-received, her infectious chart-busting tracks still held the edge; Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, Another Place to Fall and Other Side of the World sound as lyrically fresh as they did ten years ago. Finishing up on Suddenly I See (incidentally Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign track), Tunstall gave the crowd all they wanted and more with this fun-loving session, placing herself firmly among those artists who still hold the value of live gigs dear: “If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, watching on a screen isn’t the same. To watch a gig – you have to be at the gig!” It might not – nor does it try to – be genre-defying stuff but her music has the quality and honesty of a bygone era and her ability to perform is pure gold.
Photos: Silvia Sternardi
For further information about KT Tunstall and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Hard Girls here: