Having been in the ‘business’ for so long, it nevertheless surprises and excites me when I witness something so perfect that it stops me dead in my tracks. One such occasion was this Beth Hart. Although I was familiar with her work, I had yet to catch her in the live environment, but that was all about to change.
The evening started off so well with a superb acoustic set by the Kris Barras Band that was warmly received by the sell-out crowd. Kris’ latest album, ‘The Divine And Dirty’, was an Album Of The Week on the Breakfast Show and deservedly so. The acoustic reworkings of the tracks showed just how tight this three piece actually is, as well as talented. Considering he is a former cage fighter, meeting the man himself is a pleasure as he comes across as a very humble man, softly spoken and with time for everyone.
Then, after a short wait, Beth Hart’s band appeared to a great ovation but that was nothing compared to the roar when the lady herself strode onto the stage. She is a towering figure even without her six inch boots and exudes sex and menace at the same time. But oh boy, what a voice! She is, to me and thousands of other people in this venue, the greatest female vocalist out there at the moment and believe me, I’ve heard plenty over the years. Whether it’s jazz in the form of the song she wrote for her sister Beth, ‘Jazz Man’, or ‘Baddest Blues’ from her 2012 album ‘Bang Bang Boom Boom’, she amazes you with the power and clarity of her voice, at times seemingly not needing a microphone. Her band are so tight as well and it was a nice touch for Beth to complement her guitarist Jon Nichols after the first number. Bob Marinelli on bass and Bill Ranson on drums keep it together and tidy, but all eyes are on Beth herself. Constantly chatting between songs, she genuinely looks a little surprised at times with the applause and love that she is receiving. She gives us a little story behind each tune, like when her Dad left home for another woman and proceeds to tear your heart out with ‘Tell Her You Belong To Me’. Thankfully he is now back in her life again. ‘Mama, This One’s For You’ is self explanatory and she also celebrates her marriage to husband Scott with the title track from her 2010 release ‘My California’.
Having recently recorded another album with Joe Bonamassa, the covers filled ‘Black Coffee’, she chose the old LaVern Baker song ‘Saved’ from it, while also singing other collaborations with Joe like ‘Your Heart Is As Black As Night’, the Buddy Miles number ‘Miss Lady’ and ‘I’ll Take Care Of You’. Not content with having THAT voice, she also plays acoustic guitar, bass guitar and piano to an exceptionally high standard and her version of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ at the end was immense.
I went into this gig not knowing what to expect and left having seen the best show so far in 2018. Beth Hart won me over from the first minute and that’s something coming from a guy heavily into rock and metal. A superb night that every member of the audience thoroughly enjoyed!