KT Tunstall Live from the Lobero

Tunstall Shows How Good Video On Demand Can Be

KT Tunstall | Credit: Pamela Littky

So much is currently riding on how our great live music venues manage to survive the enforced closures brought on by the pandemic. Until there’s a safe vaccine that works, many people are going to be reluctant to return even when the government says it’s OK, and that means that a whole industry hangs by a thread. Fortunately, artists like KT Tunstall and venues like Santa Barbara’s historic Lobero Theatre are giving us hope with innovative solutions such as the thrilling, intimate solo performance that was made available on Saturday, August 22, and that you can still catch for another few days as its availability has been extended to Sunday, August 30.

 Dressed in a shiny gold jacket and a black hat, with dangly earrings that caught the show’s impeccable lighting, Tunstall held forth for more than an hour, delivering a full band’s worth of music through a process that drew equally on her years of experience busking and a kit full of contemporary digital tools. Deftly mixing her extensive catalogue of originals with some entertaining covers, the artist created an experience that felt perfectly calibrated to the new medium. Using multiple camera angles and close-ups, the production team brought the performer into closer proximity than even the front row of a live show could provide. Tunstall has had plenty of time to think about what the pandemic has done to our lives, and she expressed her insights in the humble asides that punctuated the musical performance. She noted how “the other side of the world” was an expression that had changed meaning in the age of zoom, and she acknowledged that “we’ve all got a dark side” even when there’s darkness outside us.

 “Little Red Thread” sounded great with its idiosyncratic, syncopated bridge, and mash-ups of “Seven Nation Army” and “Walk Like an Egyptian” provided moments of humor to lighten the intensity of her personal storytelling. Closing with her hit “Suddenly I See” allowed Tunstall to reminisce about writing it—the song was inspired by both Patti Smith and Bo Diddley—and to celebrate singing it under these challenging and unexpected circumstances. Seemingly amazed by the feat of cutting through COVID’s restrictions digitally, and as a gesture of solidarity with the online audience, Tunstall included viewers in her farewell shout out, saying, “We did a show on a Saturday night!”  

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