PHOTOS: KT Tunstall solo at the Bluebird Theater in Denver - Reverb

Live review: KT Tunstall @ the Bluebird Theater

Scottish-born singer/songwriter KT Tunstall was referred to as a “talented girl” by both opening acts (Robert Francis and Miggs) at the Bluebird Theater last night. It was hard not to wonder by the end of Tunstall’s sold out show if both references were a case of unintentional backhanded slights — because Tunstall’s solo set was brilliant, powerful, engaging and funny — showing off the talent of a woman at the top of her game.

Tunstall brought her “Taiwanese orchestra” with her, which was her humorous reference to a loop pedal that she uses to create a one-woman band. She occasionally had false starts getting the loops set up the way she wanted, and made jokes about it, at one point stating the same intro to the song and adding some fake tape rewind sounds, then starting over.

Tunstall had fun engaging her audience, talking about Texas (where she had been a few days before), being “licked by the Devil’s dog” and Colorado like an “icy dried cranberry.” She also dedicated the song “Ashes” to “Miss Twitter Bomb,” who had evidently been repeatedly Twitter-requesting Tunstall to play the song. According to Tunstall, last night was first time she had played the song all tour.

Tunstall is touring in support of her seven-song “The Scarlet Tulip EP.” All the songs consist of Tunstall fingerpicking on acoustic guitar and singing without other accompaniment. When she played the first song from that EP last night, “Patience,” she introduced a guitar that had been given to her by the Talisker Distillery. The guitar is made of wood from Talisker whiskey casks and washback staves from the distillery, and was created for her after Talisker saw an interview where she named Talisker single malt as her favorite whiskey.

Tunstall also showed off her skills on the keys on a beautifully reworked version of “Little Favours,” which had far more grace and power than the version on “Drastic Fantastic.” It shows how artists who are willing to strip down often find a better take on existing material.

During “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” which has echoes of Melissa Etheridge at her finest, Tunstall played the riff from the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” on kazoo, then sang a couple of verses of it. For her encore, Tunstall pulled out an electric and turned on the distortion for a fiery take on her hit “Suddenly I See,” showing that even without a full band behind her, she could still rock out in all her glory.

Tunstall will play the Belly Up in Aspen on April 27.

Set List
Glamour Puss, Uummannaq Song, Ashes, Still a Weirdo, The Other Side of the World, Patience, Skinny Lou, Little Favours, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, Hold On, Stoppin’ the Love, Hold On, Fade Like a Shadow, E: Suddenly I See, Through the Dark

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Candace Horgan is a Denver freelance writer/photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. When not writing and shooting, she plays guitar and violin in Denver band the defCATS.

Shawn Parker is a Denver-based freelance photographer and web developer.

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