“No one gave a f*** about a girl with a guitar back then,” says KT Tunstall, reflecting on her early days as a struggling singer-songwriter cutting her teeth. Sure; fame and money has come her way since then, but so, too, has real life in recent years. Nevertheless, at 43, Tunstall appears on the Liquid Room stage as a woman content, comfortable in her own skin and making the best music of her career.
KT Tunstall, Liquid Room, Edinburgh ****
Playing an 18-song set (eight from new album WAX) backed by a supergroup of sorts (Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley, Honeyblood/Mogwai drummer Cat Myers, Go! Team bassist Cheryl Pinero and session keyboardist Hinako Omori), this lighthearted, if slightly under-rehearsed promo show is something akin to An Audience with... as Tunstall chats about taking the power back, reclaiming her mojo and turning s*** into gold.
There’s music, too, and visceral-sounding guitars are at its centre. Synths bleep, Pinero’s bass growls and Myers’ drums are the punch in the tunes’ solar plexus. From the is-it-or-is-it-not-about-suicide melancholic swirl of The River to the grunge riffing on The Healer, the new material rocks. Tunstall means business.
Halfway through, a comfort break for the band allows Tunstall to play “one of my two enormous karaoke hits” and when the group reconvene mid-way through Black Horse, the collective chemistry truly begins to gel.
They head for the home straight at full throttle, Suddenly I See waiting for them at the finish line. It all feels like the start of something new. People are finally giving a fig about girls with guitars, and not before time. - Barry Gordon