I’ve been a fan of KT Tunstall since “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” hit the airwaves almost 15 years ago. I loved the way it fused blues and folk and I loved the rasp in Tunstall’s voice that gave the song attitude. My favorite KT Tunstall song is “Invisible Empire”, though. But I’ve always been partial to songs about destruction and aftermath… songs that make your heart hurt a little in a redemptive kind of way.
Tunstall’s show at the Imperial in Vancouver was the first stop of her two week long North American Tour. I found myself in a room full of photographers, ten in total, all vying for a good angle amidst a loyal legion of fans. I was about three rows back, just to the left of where the Scottish singer-songwriter would be standing, eying a spot in row two that would give me a clear shot.
Eventually I gathered enough courage to ask the adorable couple in front of me if I could step in front of them for one of the three songs the photographers were able to shoot. It may seem like a pretty obvious thing for a live music photographer to have to do, but lately I’ve been kind of sucking at finding the sweet spot between being politely assertive and a cowardly introvert.
The couple agreed to let me through when the show started, and while we waited for Tunstall to take the stage, the three of us had a lively conversation about shooting shows, KT Tunstall’s footwear, and of the ways that music connects us. As it turns out, Tunstall’s ballad “The Universe and You” was performed by the groom on their wedding day as a surprise for his bride.
The couple was living in Germany at the time and the groom-to-be practiced the song on the sly before they flew home for the wedding. Just to be sure his love didn’t find out about his romantic gesture, he left his guitar at home and rented one here. He even commandeered a friend to bring the guitar to the reception.
“I wondered why he was so nervous”, the wife laughs.
“It was a monumental labour of love”, the husband laughs back. “When it was over, I had to lie down for a while. People were asking where I was and wanting to take pictures and I was lying down!”
It was a beautiful reminder of the direction I wanted to go when I started this blog. I want it to be more than just about a performance, I want it to be about connection. I’m wondering how many other stories I could collect about what draws people to artists.
Lucky for me KT Tunstall is a master of connection. She was basically a one woman show that night and she had everyone laughing and singing as she plowed through a decade and a half worth of hits. She commands the stage like a boss and flows effortlessly between guitar goddess and magnetic comedienne throughout the set.
“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See” were obvious highlights, but so was her genuine adoration for Canada.
“It’s like Scotland only bigger! And a wee bit nicer!” She proclaimed on more than one occasion.
Recently, i was asked if there were any real female rock guitarists out there. Yes. Of course there are. KT Tunstall is one of them.
She is a charismatic storyteller with a wicked sense of humor and I’d love to introduce her to John Craigie except I don’t actually know him personally. I enjoyed hearing her anecdotes almost as much as I loved singing along to “Invisible Empire”. Some people are connected by the love that brings people together and I guess for quite some time now I’ve felt connect to the kind of love that breaks people down. So that they can build back up again.. but still.
Thank you, KT Tunstall for having such a broad range of love in your repertoire.