Tonight Beth Hart reaffirms her qualities as a great singer, a passionate performer and an unfettered spirit. She draws on every sinew of her professionalism to conquer the unforgiving spaces of the Royal Albert Hall and the claustrophobic presence of a film crew, to make an essential connection with the capacity crowd.
And while there’s clearly a lot of pre-planning gone into the show, from the intimacy of the stage plot to her grand entrance at the back of the stalls for the opening ‘As Long As I Have A Song ‘, she’s thrives on spontaneity, the unexpected, and the downright emotional.
She seems happiest behind her piano exploring mixed emotions – the highs of her mum’s presence tonight and recalled personal lows - which are crafted into memorable songs such as ‘Ugliest House On The Block’, ‘Take It Easy On Me’, the emotionally raw ‘Leave The Light On’ and ‘My California’, which finds her partner rushing the stage to embrace her.
She showcases all her abilities in rock, blues, soul, gospel and balladic mode, with the tremolo-led and bluesy groove of ‘Close To My Fire’ particularly well suited to her expansive phrasing.
It makes the following ‘Bang Bang Boom Boom’ feel almost lightweight, but the balance is quickly redressed by the celebratory ‘Good As It Gets.’
She adds a machine gun delivery to the evocative narrative of ‘Spirit Of God’ and she’s imperious on the towering ballad ‘Baddest Blues’, before sharing her vulnerability again on the tear jerking ‘Sister Heroine’ which brings the crowd to its feet.
She presides over a rollercoaster of emotions that in the hands of any other performer might lose its impetus as the show veers towards the semi unplugged and then solo mode. But it’s the strength of her songs and her expressive phrasing shot through with sheer raw emotion that makes Beth Hart so special.
She’s sassy, trashy, playful, spontaneous and vulnerable by turns, while her controlled vibrato brings heartfelt expression to tales of a life lived on the wild side.
Her sense of the moment pushes her that little bit further and allows us glimpses behind the veil of a previously tortured soul on the road to recovery and now at peace with herself.
And just when you think you have experienced the full range of her subject matter, she slips into ‘Boogey Man’ a tale of how we could all be latent psychopaths and ‘Spiders In My Bed’, about her own personal addictions.
She finishes with a four song, singer-songwriter finale that draws a deserved standing ovation from the crowd. Cathartic therapy never sounded so essential.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photo by Christine Goodwin
Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00
Beth Hart is a Featured Artist at Get Ready to ROCK! Radio
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