KT Tunstall | 3.9.06

Sliding down the tracks from the recently released and rave-reviewed Eyes to the Telescope, Tunstall’s throaty voice—with a little help from what the 30-year-old Fife, Scotland, native referred to as the “Wee Bastard”—echoed throughout the venue to kick off the set (and album) opener, “Other Side of the World.”

 

Blueberry Hill, St. Louis  

Glittered and glowing in front of a smoke-free, estrogen-dominated audience, KT Tunstall entered the stage radiating a sincere readiness to perform for the sold-out crowd. Those familiar with the talented Scottish and Chinese–blooded folk singer probably came expecting a lot of beautiful noise from a solo source. Not tonight, my folksy friends. There was much more “package” than the Mary Poppins–ish tambourine on foot, strapped guitar, and recording box we’ve seen on the Today Show. Regardless of the obvious band setup, we knew we were in for something special, something deliciously different from the folk of yesterday—and how right we were.

Sliding down the tracks from the recently released and rave-reviewed Eyes to the Telescope, Tunstall’s throaty voice—with a little help from what the 30-year-old Fife, Scotland, native referred to as the “Wee Bastard”—echoed throughout the venue to kick off the set (and album) opener, “Other Side of the World.” The “Wee Bastard” is an effect pedal which allows Tunstall to record and “loop” her own vocals, guitar chords, and various hand claps—creating an ominous sound that’s as impressive to watch as it is to hear. This same voice would become sweet and childlike, interacting with the audience conversationally, and then, boom! Back to the sexy sultry croon, just like that. Think Mike Tyson beating the shit out of someone, and then the interview follows—lispy, high-pitched, and sweaty as hell. The performance of “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree” was a brilliant marriage of Tunstall and fife. Tunstall took the time to “woo hoo” and “clap” before the intro, and this rinsed and repeated throughout the song’s duration (along with a kazoo whipped out mid-song). Those fortunate enough to sit (the Duck Room has the seating capacity of a freight elevator), stood upon the final “woo hoo” and, yes, clapped like circus monkeys.

The actual concert’s rhythm was a mirage of different tempos and moods. Song selections danced romantically with “Silent Sea” and “Universal U,” only to pick up the pace with “Miniature Disaster,” and the highlight, “Suddenly I See.” The evening played out like a Beck mix CD—you didn’t see it coming, yet the ignorance was somehow (if not premeditated) conceptual bliss. So what if the flow undulates back and forth without clear succession? Tunstall and friends rode the waves peacefully, priming all for tides both fierce and gentle, creating a calm delirium from the experience when washed to show’s end. Brilliant.

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