It’s only in recent years that I have become more aware of American singer-songwriter and blues queen Beth Hart. Despite my adoration for acts from the 90’s including the female singer-songwriter surge that produced some of my all-time favourite songbirds including Alanis Morissette, Lisa Loeb and Sheryl Crow, Beth somehow seemed to have flown under the radar until fairly recently. After seeing her live this week, it’s an admission I am slightly ashamed of but thankfully I now have Beth in my life and I can’t get enough of the blues rebel.
While I appreciate the expansive career that the rough-around-the-edges blues icon has carved for herself over the best part of 25 years, it is her brand new record, Better Than Home, that speaks to me the most. The album, which is to be released over the next fortnight, puts the musicians song-writing and vocal talents into the spotlight more than on any other record in her catalogue. Hart has experienced hardship throughout her career including a period of drug addiction and the new album throws all of that onto the table and the result is something truly exquisite and raw.
Hart has been on the road for a while now with the new LP in hand and delivering the live Better Than Home experience to her enormous fan base around the world. As well as a spot at this years Bluesfest in Byron Bay, Beth is also lighting up venues around the country with her powerful performances and we went along to see the musician deliver one hell of a set last night at the quant but very fitting Metro Theatre in Sydney. The crowd may have been relatively small and the venue intimate but she brought that house right down with a performance that blew us away from the very first note to the closing chord!
As Beth took to the stage at 8.45pm, taking to her piano which was dressed in a cloth with logo emblazed across the front, the singer gave her gratitude to her soulful support act, Kristy Lee who provided the audience with a nice warm-up before the leading lady announced her arrival.
While opening numbers Leave A Light On and Spirit of God were performed behind her piano, by the time Well, Well was offered to fans she was full of energy and sweating from head to toe in her black pocka dot dress, fishnet stockings and sturdy black boots, giving her absolute everything to the hit.
The tour is in support of new album Better Than Home and while many of the songs offered within the set understandably consisted of tracks from the new LP, Hart did some thorough grazing on her back catalogue to keep fans guessing and keeping their ear out for their personal favourite Beth Hart hits. As with fellow piano queen Tori Amos, Beth’s set list constantly changes, something that gives her performance mystery and keeps the hardcore fans lining the streets for every show. This also allows Beth to enjoy her performance as an artist much more although going from last nights impeccable performance, there really didn’t seem to be anything that could dampen this songbirds spirits. She was a machine behind her instrument; unleashing some incredible vocals while powering her way through her new songs with enthusiasm and force.
Alongside new album gem Might As Well Smile which was a personal favourite for me, there were plenty of highlights during the 17 song set last night that fans will be talking about for a long time to come I’m sure. While her showmanship was on top form with uptempo stormers like Monkey Back, a song she described as being about her battle with drug addictions, something she has always been very open and honest about over the years, and late career fan favourite Bang Bang Boom Boom, it was the sentimental moments during the night that showed us that underneath the hard, tattooed exterior is a wonderfully warm and vulnerable artist.
Early on in the set Beth offered a mellow performance of new album ballad Tell Her You Belong To Me. The song, Beth explained, touches on her father’s cheating ways when she was young and is directed at the ‘other woman’ before delivering one of the most sublime numbers of the night which had the crowd hanging on every single word that fell from her lips.
Like Tell Her You Belong To Me, many of the songs that were performed last night were dedicated to members of her family. Taking a seat mid-set, Beth delivered a pitch perfect and moving performance of Sister Heroine which she wrote for her sister while the closing serenading of My California was offered to her husband who then took to the stage to plant a loving kiss on his wife’s lips.
Always eager to include the audience as much as possible and break down the barrier between blues superstar and fan, Beth regularly encouraged her audience to sing along to the songs they knew and offered numerous anecdotes and stories from her turbulent journey over the past 25 years in music.
Without feeling the need to dress up her stage in props and bright lights, Hart made the show all about the music as she frequently swapped her comfortable piano perched performances for regular and energetic foot stomping across the small stage as she belted out flawless live versions of her hits and danced with her talented band.
She was a powerhouse of a performer from start to end and while I expected a fantastic performance from Hart, those expectations were met ten-fold. With one of the most powerful and flawless sets of vocals in music, the blues icon delivered her heart and soul (and sweat) to the crowd for a solid 90 minute set of pure blues perfection!
Leave A Light On
Spirit of God
Tell Her You Belong To Me
Might As Well Smile
Bang Bang Boom Boom
If I Tell You I Luv U
Caught Out In The Rain
Better Than Home
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
Over the years he has been lucky enough to review thousands of music releases and concerts and interview artists ranging from top selling superstars like 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, Roxette, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Loeb and iconic Eagles front man/songwriter, Glenn Frey through to more recent successes including Newton Faulkner, Janelle Monae and Caro Emerald.
Brendon manages and coordinates the amazing team of writers on RenownedForSound.com who are based in the UK, the U.S and Australia.