k.d. pays tribute to the power of youth

k.d. lang – Ingénue Redux 25th Anniversary Tour: Lighthouse, Poole. (Thursday 25th July, 2019)

Her fans are a quarter of a century older than when Canadian singer k.d.lang first released the album Ingénue. It was a game-changer and so was k.d. as she adopted a potentially career damaging strategy and came out as an openly gay female singer. 

Publicly announcing that she was a lesbian seemed a brave move back in the early 1990s. How wonderful then that it all seems so utterly unremarkable now. These days people are more exercised over why she insists on her name – k.d. lang – always being printed in lower-case. 

The fans saw her then, as now, as a pioneer and they’ve stuck with her every inch of the way. So it was that in celebration of Ingénue’s 25th Anniversary a predominantly gay female audience was out in force when lang’s tour arrived at Lighthouse last night. It was a joyful occasion and a reminder of how much this singer and this album meant to the LGBT community. It accompanied many of them through heartaches and sometimes difficult, sometimes triumphant times.

They are older now, more reflective. “We’re just gay seniors” lang told them. There were whoops of delight and a round of applause as she posed and pirouetted. Of course her followers are not exclusively gay. Everyone was invited to this party and that is the way it should be.

Standing barefoot on the stage, wearing a loose fitting suit and surveying the fans from beneath her trademark masculine haircut, Kathryn Dawn Lang cuts a strange but confident figure

She’s an amazing performer with a voice that can astound with its power and purity. Fronting a superb seven-piece backing band, she performed Ingénue in its entirety. Ten tracks in their original order providing a quick reminder of what great songs the openers Save Me and The Mind of Love are.

The band, measured, nuanced and brilliant, delivered the musical magic against which this extraordinary singer wove her tales of love, loss and hope.

Things swung up-tempo with Miss Chatelaine and then settled into an almost hypnotic groove as lang delivered the rest of her masterpiece ending with, of course, the Grammy winning Constant Craving which had the crowd singing along.

And there was more to come with songs that showcased her continued prowess  as a writer, singer and performer and the brilliance and versatility of her band. She ended with a tribute to three of her fellow Canadian singer-songwriters –  Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. Her rendition of Young’s Helpless was one of the highlights of the evening and the vocal dexterity and passion displayed on Cohen’s Hallelujah was spine-tingling.

The encores found the 57-year-old singer paying tribute to the power of youth with name-checks for climate-change activist Greta Thunberg and the young anti-gun lobby campaigners in Florida. Some things may have changed for the better over the past 25 years but there are always new battles to fight.

Jeremy Miles 

%d bloggers like this: