Review: KT Tunstall in Birmingham

Richard Lutz reports from Symphony Hall.


Here’s a potted biography for you:

She is the daughter of a Hong Kong exotic dancer based in Edinburgh. She was adopted as an infant by a St Andrews University physicist. The family never had music in the house because her younger step brother was deaf and their parents didn’t want to make him feel left out.

But she learned her music at an early age, got a BA in London and busked in Vermont (must have been cold), wrote Hillary Clinton’s theme song for her ’08 run for the White House and, now at 41, makes her cash – when not touring as a film music composer.

KT Tunstall has been on the go for a while and, at the Symphony Hall, with her 3threepiece backing band, she wore alarming silver trousers that made her resemble someone wrapped in baking foil ready for 180 degrees for 90 minutes.

120px-kt_tunstall_summer_sundae05She uses a loop pedal to instantly record her own backing tracks, which is a nice trick, and played half an hour past the supposed shut up time, giving a sell-out crowd wall to wall rock and roll.

There were some classics such as It Took Me So Long to Get Here and also Suddenly I See, plus a cover of Walk Like an Egyptian which went down well with a crowd that remembered well the ’80s. A trio of encores included a tribute to Birmingham’s heavy metal nutcase past with a tune that could have come straight out of Ozzie Osbourne’s head. And in her quieter moments she showed her flare for composition and lyrics.

There was a tad too much airy fairy  cod philosophy from California (where she’s now based) that many could have done without. But she knows how to chat across the footlights and draw an audience in. You got full value, loud full value.

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