Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 08/11/2011 | KT Tunstall – Union Chapel, London

08/11/2011 | KT Tunstall – Union Chapel, London

Lisa Ward


Union Chapel and acoustic performances go hand in hand. It seems once an artist steps onto the stage everything is toned down a notch and given the venue’s sublime acoustics, there’s very good reason to do so. KT Tunstall is no different and as she traces through her back catalogue of material there’s a sense of delight that many of the less widely aired songs have made it to the set.

Nevertheless opener White Bird, Uummannaq Song and Under The Weather all get combined with the loop pedal for which KT’s has become renowned. Whilst on Uummannaq Song this adds the fuller sound that her band would normally deliver, on Under The Weather it  seems superfluous and dwarfs the song, where a fully acoustic version might have harnessed it’s power. With the like of The Entertainer and Stoppin’ The Love revering in their simplicity, the songs which boast the loop have a different edge, an edge which doesn’t always suit the occasion.

It’s not that KT doesn’t know how to work the lop with grace and ease, weaving it seamlessly into the songs, but more that the stripped back numbers are so striking and powerful that they can only ever bring a desire for more of the same. No where is this more apparent than when she climbs the pulpit and delivers Shanty Of The Whale a capella without a microphone. Here she holds true to the recorded version and creates a moment which is no less than breathtaking. If God had a vision of how music should be delivered in churches, there is no doubt in my mind that this would be it.

With a brief interlude of the other Scarlet Tulip songs (Alchemy, Hidden Heart and Scarlet Tulip all making their way into the set) KT returns to her finger picking routes, a style she confesses she abandoned during her busking days when she realised that aggressive playing made more money. These combined with the piano led Lost and Through The Dark only serve to confirm everything which is wrong with the perception that loud is better. Despite carrying less musical weight, they are far more powerful and convey a greater sense of emotion.

It can’t be denied that Black Horse And The Cherry Tree will always require the loop especially when combined (as it is tonight) with a kazoo and an interlude of The White Stripes Seven Nation Army or that Suddenly I See would have been less likely to encourage the aisle dancing if it had been delivered in a more acoustic way. However, tonight it’s clear that it’s KT’s vocals which do most of the work and her ability to intonate and capture emotion in her voice is what ultimately carries the set to it’s conclusion, bringing an overwhelming feeling of awe.


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