After my recent shenanigans in Canada I was happy – on the week of my return – to have a concert by kd lang to look forward to. Don’t ask me why kd uses the diminutive to spell her name as I have no idea – but as she has always done so, I will follow suit. Last night was the second night of her Irish engagement in the National Concert Hall. I was in like Flynn. It’s lucky that I even heard about it. The National Concert Hall does not sell tickets through Ticketmaster – an automatic plus for the venue – so it was by chance that I heard about the shows on the tram when I bumped into a friend and her wife, who informed me.
The two year tour – which ended last night – was called ‘Ingénue Redux’. ‘Ingénue’ was lang’s most commercially successful album. Released in 1992, this tour was to revisit it. The big hit from the album ‘Constant Craving’ is one of my all-time favourite pop songs.
I first heard the album in its entirety in the mid-1990s. At the time I used to travel around the country via hitch-hiking. I was travelling from Cork to Limerick one summer. I was picked up by a couple in rural county Cork, and the album was playing. I remember being deeply impressed by how beautiful the music was, as I sat in the back seat with my eye on the door in case the couple turned funny and I had to make a leap for it.
This was my second time in the National Concert Hall. I was previously there to see Rufus Wainwright in the summer of 2016. He’s also a Canadian homosexual. Clearly this is a venue of taste and discernment.
kd lang is of course a stone cold lesbian icon . I knew this even back in 1992. She came out of the closet publically in the early 1990s when such a thing was still a brave and unusual decision – particularly seeing as she started her career as a country singer – country being a music genre that was not known for its warm acceptance of The Gays (Dolly Parton notwithstanding). The audience in the venue was predominantly female. I am not going to make any inference about someone’s sexuality based on their hairstyle, but I will say that there was a tendency among this audience to have cropped, short hair. I fit right in with my number one buzz cut.
The opening act was an Australian duo called The Grigoryan Brothers who play classical guitar. Their sound was very pleasant and enjoyable.
When kd took to the stage, the hallowed halls of the National Concert Hall exploded. It was the lesbian equivalent of the Beatles coming to town. The love shown to lang was obvious. This was her crowd.
It’s easy to see why. Her voice remains as clear, haunting, yearning and beautiful as it always was. She was singing the soundtrack to these women’s (and some men’s) lives. She commented that as the ‘Ingénue’ album was introspective, that chats with the audience would have to wait until she had performed it in its entirety and in sequence. What an album. What songs. What charisma. What a voice. When she was singing ‘Outside myself’ my phone vibrated. Glancing quickly at the screen (I was in the back row of the balcony so not distracting) I saw a message from my sister that my 15 month old nephew had just taken his first four unassisted steps (before plonking back down on his bottom). This was incredible. And it means that from now on I can associate kd lang’s music with baby learning to walk.
After the album was complete she chatted to the audience with a warmth, humour and grace, before the second act where she performed other songs including numbers by Canadian legends Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and a beautiful cover of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen (the last time I heard this live was by Rufus Wainwright in the very same room).
The love in the air was palpable. This was a music legend among her people.
An absolute triumph of a concert.