Gig review: BETH HART – New Theatre, Oxford, 18 April 2018

Beth Hart piano by MHPstudios

Opening for Beth Hart are the Kris Barras Band, who were performing as a three piece in acoustic mode (not sure where the fourth band member was!) and promoting the new album ‘Divine And Dirty’, which our resident blues guru Pete Feenstra enjoyed very much.

I would concur as I was very impressed by the set by Kris Barras and his band. Even in acoustic mode you could feel the power of ‘Hail Mary’ (which has been gaining airplay on GRTR! Radio and Planet Rock amongst others) and ‘Propane’. Kris plays his acoustic guitar like a man possessed and the brushed drums and percussion of Will Beavis lend a perfect backbeat to the night’s proceedings.

Change of mood with ‘Watching Over You’, which Kris dedicated to his dad who died after a short battle with cancer. A moving lyric and sung from the heart. I am a convert to the Kris Barras Band and would recommend seeing him live in either acoustic or full on electric mode. Judging by the CD’s spotted in the audience in the interval after his set had finished I am not the only one.

I am not overly familiar with the music of Beth Hart, however having read many a rave review of her live shows here on GRTR! I was very keen to witness her live performance. Even the orchestra pit and its massive drop at the front of the stage didn’t prevent her getting into the stalls to sing amongst her fans (one of whom presented her with a bunch of flowers!).

At times it was like being in a revivalist/gospel meeting such was the sheer love and devotion coming from the stage to Beth and her band and then likewise back to the audience. Beth certainly appreciates where she is at musically and her audiences who helped get her here (next month she plays a sold out show at the Royal Albert Hall).

‘Better Man’, one of two song she dedicates to her husband and tour manager Scott, gets the old feet tapping away. The set bounds around musical styles, one minute slow blues, then some soul thunder and in ‘Jazz Man’, Beth adds some jazz to her ever expanding musical repertoire.

Beth gives a little insight to most songs on the night, including ‘Broken & Ugly’ which was written about a rundown house she and Scott had bought. The show went through many highs and lows, both in musical pace and lyrically. One stand out was the upbeat ‘Good As It Gets’, with the band blasting out behind Beth seated at the piano.

Guitarist Jon Nichols, with his guitar slung down low, poured passion into his playing, be it on the electric or acoustic guitar. Whilst bassist Bob Marinelli (looking like he is from a 70′s TV cop show) and drummer Bill Ransom add a steady backbeat throughout the night.

The band and Beth came back for an encore, not that there was ever any doubt the audience wanted to hear more! A blistering version of the title track from her latest album ‘Fire on the Floor’ showed the band had plenty of gas in the tank. ‘As Long as I Have a Song’ sums up really the importance of music to both Beth and her many fans, whose numbers increase with every new album and show.

Review by Jason Ritchie

Album review (Live From New York Front & Center)


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Power Plays w/c 17 September 2018

THE PINEAPPLE THIEF Try As I Might (KScope)
JAWBONE Two Million Heartbeats (indie)
BAD TOUCH Hammer Falls (Marshall Records)
SARI SCHORR Thank You (Manhaton)
MALLEN Polarity (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 17 September (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 GIOELI-CASTRONOVO Set The World On Fire (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 FEDERAL CHARM Passenger (indie)
14:00-16:00 PAUL CARRACK These Days (Carrack-UK)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

18:00-19:00 THE PRODUCERS Made In Basing Street (2012)



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