Tunstall took the stage at the Silver Legacy’s Grande Exposition Ballroom Friday ready to entertain the almost full room.
The venue, and Tunstall’s opening, set the mood for a mellow evening of rock enjoyment. Tunstall’s music, already known for its rawness and emotional depth, reached a new level of honesty in her live show. The lighting and all floor seating also offered the feeling of being at a really great open mic night at the local coffee shop.
The set began with some new releases and a few little-known songs from her first album, "Eye to the Telescope," and washed over a mellow crowd.
By her "Drastic Fantastic" album release, "Hold On," however, a few shoulders were starting to move to the beat.
It wasn’t until singing her break-out hit “Big Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” that Tunstall turned the relaxed atmosphere into a rock and pop-driven party.
Armed with her acoustic guitar, strong voice and the recording and playback pedal she has affectionately named “Wee Bastard,” Tunstall rocked the room. The lone performer on stage, Tunstall unleashed all the pulsating power she held in her small 31-year-old frame over the audience. During the final lines of the song, Tusntall was again joined by her band for a strong finish.
From then on, the show was one driving song after another, showcasing her talent with little-known songs as well as radio favorites such as “The Other Side of the World” and “Miniature Disasters.”
At one point, she acknowledged her admiration of country stars Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, adding a slight personal touch that was meant for the western-minded Reno crowd.
“Since I am in Country (the music genre) country here,” Tunstall said as she introduced her tribute to the west in the song “Boo Hoo.”
Through almost constant guitar changes and stomping rhythms, she never stopped moving, rocking her large guitars back and forth in a Johnny Cash-style.
After wishing the crowd a good night, she returned for one last performance, singing "Suddenly I See." The No. 10 hit on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks charts brought many of her fans to their feet, as well as to the front of the stage for the first time that night.
By the end of the show, the crowd left having seen a performance that matched the venue well and a performer who knew how to bring energy to the folk-rock synthesis.