Larmer Tree Festival, Dorset
Sunday 21st July 2013
8 pm – 9 pm
1 Waiting On The Heart
3 Other Side Of The World
4 Boys of Summer (Don Henley)
5 Black Horse & The Cherry Tree (solo)
6 Feel It All
7 Invisible Empire
9 Suddenly I See (with band singing, not playing)
10 Made of Glass
11 State Trooper (Bruce Springsteen)
12 Hallowed Ground (B-side)
When “Eye To The Telescope” was new we got given two copies for Christmas from different people. It was so popular then that it explains the 20-40 age group going wild over KT at Larmer Tree. She played the three expected tracks, The Other Side of The World, Black Horse and The Cherry Tree and Suddenly I See. Interestingly, she did Other Side of The world straight with her three piece band, but elected to do Black Horse solo (plus a loop with Woo Woo! noises), then to get the three lads to put down their instruments and just sing backing for Suddenly I See, and told us it was the first time they had tried it that way. Both were effective. These three songs were the best known and appreciated, and she knows that before she starts.
KT knows the visual effect of this small slim feisty female surrounded by three towering blokes in her backing group. Looks great, just as it did with Lulu and The Luvvers and Suzi Quatro. The guitarist was brought over from the Tucson Arizona sessions for her new album, Invisible Empire / Crescent Moon; the bass guitarist was from Edinburgh and the drummer from Denmark.
After Eye To The Telescope, which we loved, I bought Acoustic Extravaganza, which I think is a phenomenal album, and a bass player’s delight. There is this connection between female singer / songwriters and bass players … check Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones. The two stand out tracks (3 and 4 in sequence) are One Day and a cover of Beck’s Golden Age which trounces the original. The material is strong throughout, and the acoustic instruments are recorded beautifully … in the Isle of Skye. I’d really be hoping for something, or anything, from Acoustic Extravaganza, but it was not to be. Nothing from Tiger Suit either, and just Funnyman from Drastic Fantastic. Instead she focussed heavily on new material … Feel It All is the lead promotion track (or what used to be called a single). The first two songs were new, which I never think a good move. I hadn’t kept up much with her other stuff after the first two, which always hampers enjoyment somewhat. I wish I’d bought the new album and absorbed it before the show. Also, the truncated one hour festival set means that choices have to be made, and presenting the new songs is why she’s here.
The covers were both astute and well-taken. Don Henley’s Boys of Summer surprised me (ruined the evening almost because I knew I knew it, knew I loved it but the title wouldn’t come until I got home to Google). Bruce Springsteen’s State Trooper was solid and strong. It joined well with the closer, Hallowed Ground, new, and as she announced, the “B-side of her new single.” Do virtual singles have B sides?
The crowd loved her, she played as the sun was going down with splendid cloud formations in the Dorset sky (causing some better-fuelled audience members near us to gasp in delight). I’ll probably book to see her indoors in the autumn. The outdoor sound was a little brittle and harsh, but that’s partly a three piece group, partly the number of distort effects the guitar player employed. Many say two guitars, bass and drums is the perfect rock line up, but to me, it suffered soundwise from following straight on from the sinuous Congolese rhythms of the 8-piece Grupo Lokito on the neighbouring garden stage. They were at a lower volume, which sounded better, but still exciting, and rhythmically in a different league. I liked the sound of her with solo guitar best, and playing without the group gives more room to adapt, improvise and work with a song.
The sky over KT Tunstall’s set: You can see her bottom right just)