IT’S likely that most people in the room would have been shocked to hear KT Tunstall remind us that she’s been in the public eye for a whole 15 years now; that it was way back in 2004 when her solo performance of Black Horse and the Cherry Tree on Later with Jools Holland kickstarted her career.
KT Tunstall, Alhambra, Dunfermline ****
Nowadays, she told us, she turns up in karaoke bars in Los Angeles (the city she calls home for the moment) to find the song listed and sings it to her friends (as she did here, still the show’s inevitable centerpiece) because she can’t find George Michael’s Faith instead.
Refreshingly, watching one of her shows – particularly in Fife, where she grew up – still feels a bit like watching one of your mates do karaoke. Tunstall’s easy, friendly, jokey way with the crowd cuts a lot of ice. She got us onside talking about “sasspot young people” telling her “oh my God, I’ve been listening to you my whole life” and how she cringes at the fragmentation and disagreement of modern life before singing The River, a song about plunging into the water to escape the noise. Dressed all in white, which is apparently entirely acceptable in LA, her four-piece band are all women.
One poignant moment came in her explanation of Funnyman as being written for her friend Gordon Anderson, aka Fife musician Lone Pigeon, as a means of trying to understand his state of mental health (“Are you going to play it to loads of people? Cool!” he said when told of the song). There was also a callback to a certain era of Edinburgh nightlife with the guest appearance of the Cuban Brothers in their Bridge and Allen guise for a cover of Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now.
From the commercial pop of early hits Suddenly I See and Fade Like a Shadow to the richer, captivating maturity of last year’s WAX album, Tunstall is revealing herself as an artist to grow older – but not necessarily grow up – with.