At first, The Music Box was eerily quiet. From behind the deep red curtains, the familiar rocking sounds of an acoustic guitar suddenly filled the theater. The abrupt flow of crisp guitar riffs and drumbeats jolted the hibernating crowd to life.
“Hello Los Angeles,” said a voice with a thick Scottish accent. As the crowd recognized the voice and erupted into applause, the night’s headliner made her way onstage.
From the moment Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall took the stage, it was clear that she and Los Angeles were very fond of each other. Thursday’s concert was just the latest example in a series of positive experiences with the city and the singer.
Tunstall and her band, which were in town as part of the first leg of their North American tour to promote her third studio album Tiger Suit, kicked off the night with an energetic jam featuring high notes and familiar punch lines.
It was immediately clear that Tunstall has a very likable stage personality. First off, she was extremely sassy, cooing in a powerful accent that mixed well with her leather leggings and selection of guitars. But even as she commanded the stage with her attitude, she still showed off a strong level of appreciation for her crowd.
Equally as amusing was the crowd itself, which spent the night — in between listening attentively to her songs — shouting exclamations of praise as well as other, more odd comments. At one point, a man shouted at Tunstall, “Have my babies,” to which she sprightly replied, “Sorry, I’ve been booked,” sending waves of laughter through the crowd.
From her easy-going aura to her quick-witted humor, Tunstall knew how to command a room. None of this, however, compared to the spectacle she put on at one point in the show as she played with just her strong voice and loop pedal.
She mixed upbeat chords and catchy beats by looping her guitar, all the while clapping and whistling.
When she sang her hit track “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” she showed that she really can rock out live and wasn’t beholden to studio production tricks, as the performance was energetic and powerful — and it sounded just as good, if not better than the studio version.
That isn’t to say that she totally eclipsed her backing band. The four-piece group — with guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and the occasional trumpet and accordion — jammed intensely through the night, matching Tunstall’s energy song for song. They complemented Tunstall’s bouncing vigor, never overpowering her but still essential to the show.
Toward the middle of her set, Tunstall took the time to introduce every band member and his respective hometowns — giving listeners a more personal band intro than usual.
The set ranged from a sentimental ballad about messy break-ups (which she dedicated to an audience member who vociferously admitted to having been dumped recently) to a lively jam (whistling and clapping included) that she said she wrote with late-night television host Craig Ferguson.
The audience was largely comprised of presumably devout followers, many of whom sang along to the lyrics during every song. Although the demographics definitely skewed toward an older generation, that didn’t stop them from grooving along to both new and familiar melodies performed by Tunstall and the band.
The night closed with an encore performance of her breakout single, “Suddenly I See,” which Tunstall — in another display of her characteristic humor — dedicated it to “all the boyfriends who were dragged here by their girlfriends but don’t really want to be here.”
It was quite the refreshing finish to a solid set.
“I really, really love Los Angeles,” Tunstall said to the crowd at one point during the night. “I’m really not brown-nosing or anything. In fact, I had a little too much fun last night.”
A loud voice from the back replied.
“L.A. loves you too, KT.”