KT Tunstall & Band |
at the Faversham,
(10 October 2004)
KT Tunstall is a girl with strong instincts: anyone who's been dazzled by her solo set will understand why she's assembled this excellent four-piece band to "stretch the boundaries" of her superb original material. Chameleon-like in her creativity and delivery, KT seems capable of adapting her songs to any range of instrumentation or style, and the impact on the listener is stunning whatever she goes for. As recently as last week, KT was delivering a blistering solo set supporting Travis at Liverpool's Cavern. Just her, her acoustic guitar and her "Head Rush" loop machine -- used to set up multi-layered effects and create a dynamic, expansive backdrop to her songs -- proved her to be an excellent solo performer. With a full band her music enters new territory, however, and really drive her sound forward -- it's tight, passionate, bluesy and totally full on.
Drummer is Luke Bullen (one of Joe Strummer's Mescalero's, he also plays with John Squire), on keyboards is Paul Beard (Bluetones/Black Grape) and bassist is Arnulf (Arnie) Lindner (he's worked with Ed Harcourt, Petra Jean Phillipson). These guys are so into Tunstall's songs, and their attitude is fundamental to how her material succeeds in this more edgy, blues/rock-driven format. And KT is so optimistic that this is her way forward: "The will to play together and stay together is so strong!"
What's immediately apparent is how tight the band sounds despite getting together only relatively recently -- the sound set-up wasn't exactly spot on (I can never work out why not!), but I managed to get enough detail out of the PA to note that Beard excels on keyboards -- on the superlative "False Alarm" his playing was stunning, but he also turns his hand to percussion with equal panache ("Silent Sea"). Drummer Bullen gets into the rhythm right from the start, and his insistent playing pushes the band forward at every turn ("Miniature Disasters," "Universe & You"). Lindner, excellent on electric bass throughout, turned his hand to cello (bowed and plucked) towards the end of the gig ("Stopping the Love") and his playing added real depth to this number. KT played guitar (acoustic/electric) throughout, and I loved the detail particularly on "Under the Weather" and "Silent Sea." She belts out these songs with real passion.
Absolute dynamite was closing number "Suddenly I See," a completely blistering song thrashed out (literally!) with hods of gusto, with Beard reaching for metal dustbin lid to populate every chorus with a riot of sound. Sensational!
The stage was tastefully candlelit -- for some reason the stage lighting failed very early on in the set!!
KT has just released her 4-track EP False Alarm, and her debut album Eye to the Telescope (produced by Steve Osborne) is due out on 22 November. She's no longer involved with world award nominees Oi Va Voi, with whom she made a huge impact, but told me last night that she's kicking off a new collaboration with Orcadian musician Kevin Cormack (Half Cousin), whose latest album The Function Room stretches the boundaries of musical improvisation and ideas.
KT is a name to watch. This is strong, sexy material. With the backing of such a strong band, her live act is dynamite.