k d lang & The Siss Boom Band – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall June 4th, 2011

A very slightly extended version of my review for today’s Nottingham Post.

On kd lang’s first visit to the Royal Concert Hall, nearly twenty years ago, the audience was dominated by screaming young women. Tonight the top tier is empty and there are notably more males, of the middle aged variety. The Canadian singer is touring with a permanent band who give her a more relaxed onstage presence. They launches into ‘I Confess’, followed by a boomy ‘Summer Fling’. The sound settles down for a delicate ‘Water’s Edge’. Then it’s a lovely ‘Miss Chatelaine’ from her breakthrough, still most successful album, ‘Ingenue’.  The intro is coquettish, her stage dancing joyful.  The title track of new album, ‘Sing It Loud’, is dedicated to ‘all the freaks. I expect Nottingham has its share. We have our share on stage, too.’

The set reaches its peak with ‘a country song by The Talking Heads’, a mesmerising version of ‘Heaven’ that shows off k d’s vocal pyrotechnics, reminding anyone who’s forgotten that she’s the best in the business. Even this is excelled by what follows, a stunning arrangement of ‘Hallelujah’ that brings many to their feet. It’s a song that has been done to death in recent years, but k d was one of the first to cover it and reinvents it all over again. I’ve only seen the song’s writer, Leonard Cohen, perform it better.

Trouble is that the remaining half of the show is an anti-climax. Twelve of the eighteen songs played come from the new album and, while the show remains enjoyable, things start to get samey. The band is great, but doesn’t explore her sublime back catalogue in much depth. Only set closer ‘Constant Craving’ returns the excitement factor. There’s always a balance between playing old stuff that the audience is familiar with and showcasing the new material that the artist, is, understandably, keenest on. Maybe I’m in picky reviewer mode when I suggest that a longer set might get round the problem. The ninety minute concert ends with a full standing ovation for the final encore, a lovely version of ‘Hungry Bird’, which also closes the new album.


kd lang – Hungry Bird

2 Replies to “k d lang & The Siss Boom Band – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall June 4th, 2011”

  1. Can you enlighten me what a freak is which you refer to in the article above I saw kd’s concert in Manchester and it was a sell out and brilliant My cousin lives in Nottinham and is both boring and homophobic perhaps that maybe why there were a lot of empty seats at this concert

  2. My guess would be that kd would want to widen the definition of ‘freak’ beyond the gay community to include all of the unusual and dispossessed. Nottingham has a large gay community and I have many friends who belong to it, but I didn’t see any of them at Saturday’s gig. It was much more of a Radio Two audience, as I imply at the start of the review. I’ve had a couple of complaints about this review on Twitter, which is odd, as I’m a huge kd fan (indeed, the Post titled the review ’20 years on, KD’s still the best’). I paid good money to see her on both previous visits but when I’m reviewing, I try to replace my fanboy head with a more objective one and, while the first half was fantastic, I thought the set should have been both longer and better structured.

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