Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
It’s fascinating to see just how many different online music sites have mentioned or covered the current Beth Hart tour. It doesn’t matter whether the site focuses on Blues, Country, Jazz, Soul or even Gospel, everyone seems to have time and space for Beth. If ever there was an artist that can effortlessly straddle, blend or even ultimately eliminate genre divisions it’s this hugely talented artist from L.A.
We were fortunate enough to see Beth perform in the Corn Exchange in the historic city of Cambridge. Built in the late 1800’s, like most things in Cambridge the building is steeped in history and of late, home to a wealth of artists who have stopped by on their UK tours. The sold out show was a seated affair which definitely left me wanting the opportunity to stand up and dance at times but a few “I can’t see” comments from behind left me needing to duck down somewhat and enjoy the show from the comfort of my chair.
KRIS BARRAS BAND
Before Beth took to the stage, one of THE most exciting new Blues artists in the UK right now took to the stage. Having seen Kris Barras several times in rapid succession, this show was made all the more special thanks to the decision by Kris and the band to play as an acoustic three piece. Songs from recent release ‘The Divine and Dirty’, already destined to become a classic blues rock album, took on a whole new lease of life as Kris and the band, delivered 30 minutes of supreme rock music that was lapped up by the crowd in the room.
Treating his acoustic guitar as if it were his regular telecaster, Kris wrung every ounce of emotion out of the songs that saw set regulars ‘Propane’ and ‘Hail Mary’ go down a storm.
For an audience there primarily to see Beth, by the end of Barras’ set, people were on their feet applauding. The queue at the merch stand before and after Beth’s set demonstrating the impact that the young musician is having on everyone that hears him at the moment. A job very very well done indeed.
This was a first for me. I’ve heard so many people wax lyrical about Beth Hart yet I’ve never been in the right place at the right time to see her perform live. Thankfully a trip up the M11 to Cambridge resolved this and as I settled down to watch one of the big names in Blues Rock, the lights dimmed around the room and then suddenly plunged us into darkness.
With the band on stage, subtle light glowing from an almost ethereal backdrop, Beth’s vocals suddenly started echo around the room yet there was no sign of her. A travelling white spot light highlighted her as she slowly walked, from the back of the venue to the stage, sashaying past the adoring eyes of some of the male fans sat in their seats. A gentle caress of a shoulder, a smile to a fan as she walked past saw several of the chaps dissolve into a happy puddle of goo in what can best be described as a moment from ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys’.
Before moving onto the stage for the remainder of the set, Beth then proceeded to perform the rest of ‘Don’t Explain’.
Speaking to a friend from another publication, it appears that Beth’s setlists are, shall we say, fluid. It’s a rarity that she’ll stick to the agree list of songs for the night and instead sees where the mood takes her. As such, a set comprising the first half ‘on track’ and a second half ‘off piste’ proves just how well she and the band can adapt to whatever songs spring to mind.
A multi talented musician, vocalist, pianist, guitarist, every song was added to with whatever Beth decided to play, making the whole set very special. The introductions to the songs often contained anecdotes, words of inspiration and more that left us with a feeling that all was not quite as bad in the world as we had perhaps thought. If music is the magic ingredient that keeps us together then Beth Hart is the one going round the globe sprinkling the fairy dust at every opportunity.
I’ll never be able to attend a Beth Hart show again completely oblivious as to what to expect. However, talking to people in the theatre foyer and also in the audience who have been regulars to her performances, it would seem that no two shows are ever alike. That alone is reason enough to go back and be surprised all over again by one of the most versatile artists I’m come across in the last decade.