The Scottish Artist Seamlessly Mixes Electrically-Charged Tracks to Create Lively Performance
Written By: Justin Sedgwick KT Tunstall
Photographed By: Brianna Moss
Hitting the town on a Monday night isn’t usually met with enthusiasm among LA locals. But for the lucky audience members present at the Fonda Theatre on October 3, KT Tunstall ensured they were “psychologically incapable” of experiencing nothing but joy.
The Scottish-born, California-spirited singer/songwriter/genre-crossing, multi-talented performer took the stage at the Fonda Theatre on Monday, where she bellowed out electrically charged songs, emotional deep cuts, and feel good anthems in a spirited carnival of sound.
High-powered rocking tracks seamlessly transitioned into acoustic, heartfelt ballads. Verses from The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and The Bangles’ “Walk Like An Egyptian” pleasantly surprised concertgoers. And Tunstall still managed to play her most famous hits as well, with a young woman in the audience literally doing cartwheels of delight during “Black Horse and Cherry Tree.”
But the most memorable moments of the show were listening to new tracks from her new album “KIN.” Standouts included the optimistically-focused “Maybe It’s A Good Thing” and “Turned A Light On, ” a song describing that unforgettable feeling when you meet a special someone. Tunstall’s new record was greatly influenced by moving back to California, where she briefly lived in Encino as a child but now resides in Venice Beach.
“It was this beautiful, bohemian, very relaxed bubble where life was slower and absolutely being enjoyed on a very simple level and I fell in love at first sight, ” Tunstall said. “I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”
“KIN, ” at times, almost functions as an unofficial soundtrack to California summer, one which you’d be required by state law to crank out when June 20 hits each year. The joyous opener “Hard Girls” conjures images of driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down on a sunny day, and “On My Star” brings memories of your friend from Juilliard or Berklee who would bust out their guitar while drinking beers around a Huntington Beach bonfire.
While Tunstall’s last album “Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon” was much more melancholic, inspired greatly by both the death of her father and her divorce, “KIN” clearly resonates the new, positive turn KT’s taken in her life.
“If someone had told me … you’re going to be in LA, in the sunshine, driving your Tesla through the canyons of Topanga, listening to Tom Petty and crying with happiness because you’ve got a new record, I would just be like ‘fuck off, no way!’” Tunstall said. “I just wouldn’t have believed it, it just sounds so crazy because it was such a shift from where I was.”
Tunstall did speak at her show about the sorrows she had to face in recent years, but the audience could sense she was in great spirits. The singer constantly interacted with the crowd like neighbors, as if she were hosting an outdoor barbecue at her Venice Beach pad and everyone on Abbot Kinney was invited. Between songs, the singer would ruminate on a slew of personal and humorous topics, including long distance relationships and the differences between British and American bathroom stall doors, all while never losing her energetic grace or gusto.
“I need to sweat, I need to have a very physical experience when I play a show, ” Tunstall said. “And for that to really happen, there’s got to be a reciprocal relationship with an audience in front of me who is physically engaged.”
Such interaction with an established performer is rare in Los Angeles, even in an intimate, historic venues like the Fonda Theatre. Dating back to the 1920s and recently reopened in 2012, the Fonda has everyone from Alabama Shakes to Phish and even Katy Perry. Opulent lamps greet guests walking through the front doors, with the audience shuffling to their preferred standing spots beneath a church-like, ornately-decorated ceiling. Those who wanted to take a breather collected near the front of the venue and audience members who wanted to dance more freely could be found closer towards the stage. And in between songs you could spot senior retirees mingling with fashion-forward millennials at the bar.
“My audience is incredibly varied, like I will have seven to seventy year olds, ” Tunstall said. “I’ll have like teenage Emo guys … bringing their grandmas who like The Carpenters.”
Sadly, no grandmas holding onto the arms of their black-haired Emo grandchildren could be immediately spotted at this concert. Tunstall closed out with her famous “Suddenly I See” and thanked her fans and a collection of friends and colleagues who came to see her play. Before the end of the show though, KT spoke to the audience about what she believes is the meaning of life. Her conclusion? “Enjoy yourself.”
The Fonda Theatre
6126 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
KT Tunstall at The Fonda Theatre