Tuesday, May 21, 2024

KT Tunstall + Billy Lockett, Symphony Hall, Birmingham 13/11/12

KT Tunstall
“I don’t know where to look…it is like the Titanic or a spaceship.” After playing his first song, it is obvious that Billy Lockett is slightly overawed by his surroundings. This doesn’t, however, translate across to the Northampton singer-songwriter’s performance which combines 70s style piano balladeering with jaunty guitar.
KT Tunstall also makes reference to the impressive surroundings, but with an air of gusto and determination that sums up the whole evening – “this is gorgeous and I am going to try and fill it”. The set list spans her entire career, from the pop stock of her 2004 debut “Eye to the Telescope” to her latest country-tinged album “Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon”. The new songs are wholesome and reflective in nature, showing signs of someone seeking spiritual return from the music. The folk-styled ‘Carried’, best illustrates this with percussive backing lending the song a Native American Indian feel. With no band as support, she strums a chord or hums a tune, records it and then plays it back on loop. It could easily go wrong, but she endears herself to the audience. Relaxed, she declares that she is “going off script” before launching into ‘Other Side Of The World’, from her debut.
The vintage quality of her vocal in this song is striking, a quality also possessed by London Grammar’s Hannah Reid. From a story-telling Scots brogue to cut glass fragility, her voice perfectly compliments her playing. ‘White Bird’ from second album “Drastic Fantastic” follows and is a real set highlight. ‘Yellow Flower’ sees her swap guitar for piano before a rousing ‘Black Horse and The Cherry Tree’ has her kazooing into ‘Seven Nation Army’ – unexpected but a sign that she is having fun. ‘Alchemy’, contrastingly, weaves together intricate fretwork and imagines Kate Bush.
A cover of Atoms for Peace’s ‘Default’ may be lost on the majority of the audience but it shows that she has a finger on the pulse. She gets everyone on their feet for “Suddenly I See” a song born out of listening to Bo Diddley and Patti Smith on the same day. It should really end there but she sneaks in ‘Chimes’ to ease the show out. Atoms for Peace and London Grammar are names that this writer didn’t expect to associate with a KT Tunstall gig, but as tonight has proved; there is a lot more to her than meets the eye.

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