K.D. LANG + THE GRIGORYAN BROTHERS – BRIGHTON DOME 16.07.19
There was an air of excitement and anticipation in the auditorium on Tuesday evening prior to K D Lang’s 3rd UK date, the Brighton audience comprised three quarters women, most of whom were already very familiar with her work.
Kathryn Dawn Lang is a Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter, better known and stylised as k.d.lang. She grew up in Edmonton and started her career with The Reclines, with whom she produced three albums. It wasn’t until 1988 that she completed ‘Shadowland’, her first solo album. The 1992 album, ‘Ingénue’ was a set of ten pop songs that included ‘Constant Craving’, a song which has brought her multi-million sales, much critical acclaim, and the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Her 13 UK and Ireland shows this year are part of her ongoing world tour, ‘Ingénue Redux’, celebrating the 25th anniversary of this album.
As soon as Lang appeared on stage, wearing a loose trouser suit and displaying bare feet, we all relaxed, her voice immediately slid exquisitely, with her signature purity, into the ten tracks from ‘Ingenue’. Listening to her live allowed the audience to hear clearly the glorious swell or her voice and the subtleties of her style, her performance was immaculate. Audience members sang along with these ‘old friends’ from the nineties. ‘The Mind Of Love’, ‘Still Thrives This Love’ and ‘Season Of Hollow Soul’ continued to haunt and yearn. ‘Miss Chatelaine’ was greeted by rapturous applause and many joyful catcalls, which Lang responded to with good humoured banter, describing a large part of the audience as a “bunch of gay seniors”.
Tonight, Lang was backed by seven very highly regarded musicians playing everything from pedal steel and accordion to piano and guitar. The songs sounded very true to the originals with a few changes to arrangements, for instance on ‘Season Of Hollow Soul’, more jazz piano was introduced at the end.
For the second part of the set, Lang started with the lovely and relatively recent ‘Honey And Smoke’ (from ‘Case/Lang/ Veirs’), which demonstrated her continuing songwriting skills and was a personal favourite of mine. Lang’s ‘I Dream Of Spring’ arrived ‘Like autumn in a rainstorm’ and was followed by covers, ‘Help Me’ (Joni Mitchell) and ‘Helpless’ (Crosby, Stills Nash & Young). The latter was a very alluring version, and Lang seemed happy singing it but appeared less comfortable with the Joni Mitchell cover.
We have heard many excellent versions of ‘Hallelujah’ before, and I was not looking forward to hearing another, but Lang, as her last number, gave us a stunning version, singing accompanied solely by Daniel Clarke on piano. It was a dramatic performance with all the shades of a master actor’s skills, expressive, subtle and moving. The audience stood up in unison as it concluded, cheering and clapping for ten minutes. An apt finale.
Her encore of ‘Sing It Loud’, was dedicated to the youth of today and ending intolerance, and ‘Sleeping Alone’ pleased the appreciative audience and rounded off the magnificent evening.
Lang’s genre-defying, sophisticated, individual style and sensual voice, combined with great song writing skills, have resulted in her being the recipient of many awards, including 4 Grammy and 6 Juno Awards; in September she will be presented with this year’s Americana Trailblazer Award by the Americana Music Association at the historic Ryman Auditorium. 25 years have sped past, “Days went past like a freight train” (‘Sing it Loud’) and it was lovely to meet up with ‘old friends’ again. As a continuing gay icon, that trail still needs blazing in a time when homophobia is sadly on the rise again.
Final thoughts? Her voice is a siren, not luring sailors to their doom, but, as Lang walked off stage, I was left craving more of that voice, and yes, it was a constant craving.
Daniel Clarke (piano) ,
David Pitch (bass guitar, double bass)
Greco Burrato (lead guitar)
Rich Hinman (pedal steel, keyboards)
Andrew Borger (drums)
Tahirah Memory and Moorea Masa (backing vocals and percussion)
k.d. lang’s setlist reads:
1. ‘Save Me’
2. ‘The Mind Of Love’
3. ‘Miss Chatelaine’
4. ‘Wash Me Clean’
5. ‘So It Shall Be’
6. ‘Still Thrives This Love’
7. ‘Season Of Hollow Soul’
8. ‘Outside Myself’
9. ‘Tears Of Love’s Recall’
10. ‘Constant Craving’
(2nd part of setlist)
11. ‘Honey And Smoke’ (Case, Lang And Viers)
12. ‘I Dream Of Spring’
13. ‘Help Me’ (Joni Mitchell cover)
14. ‘Helpless’ (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover)
15. ‘Hallelujah’ (Leonard Cohen cover)
16. ‘Sing It Loud’
18. ‘Sleeping Alone’
More information on k.d. Lang HERE.
Tonight’s support the Grigoryan Brothers, was recently described by k.d. Lang, as “true professionals, true entertainers and genuinely beautiful people”. The Grigoryan Brothers are Slava and Leonard, are Australian classical guitarists of great repute. Slava was the youngest winner of The Tokyo International Classical Guitar Competition and with his brother, Leonard, has produced 5 albums and won 4 ARIA Music Awards since 2002.
The audience were therefore expecting two musicians, so were a little confused when Leonard Grigoryan came on stage alone, maybe Slava would join him after a couple of numbers? Leonard laughed and told us that his brother was unable to join him as he had returned to Australia, we thought it was a joke for a second, but no brother arrived, so we concentrated on his solo performance.
Leonard started by playing ‘The Reluctant Bride’ by Ralph Towner, following it with ‘Distance’ from his 2009 album of the same name, ‘Possibly Maybe’ and finishing up with ‘This Time’ from the brothers’ 2014 album. Obviously, the energy usually created by the two brothers playing together was missing tonight, but Leonard played his music skilfully and beautifully. The audience enjoyed his set, but I feel it would have been even more enjoyable in a more intimate venue.
You can hear them HERE.
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