Beth Hart, Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham Apr18


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Beth Hart, Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham


Beth Hart,

Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham


Beth Hart, Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham

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This show I have waited a lifetime for. For whatever reason I have always missed Beth Hart in Glasgow so I made the decision to travel to Nottingham and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Support tonight is in the form of The Kris Barras band. I had found the band a few months ago and fell for them instantly so when they were announced as support I was delighted. I was looking forward to it even more when I read he was doing an acoustic session.

It was a brilliant idea to switch things around as I am sure not many of this audience had heard of them before and for me seeing the guys for the first time it has set a very high standard for the next show I catch.

You would think an ex cage fighter would struggle with being tied down to a stool for the whole set but the man took it in his stride and let the quality of the songs speak. It was a seriously short set but the impact was massive.

There was no vest tonight, no roaming around that stage like a caged bear, it was all very simple, stripped back and beautiful. They kicked of with “Rock’n’Roll Running Through my Veins” and this tells Kris’s story. He led a life that veered away from music but it drew him back and going by tonight’s performance the stage is where he is meant to be.

Although the songs were low in number their power was not. Single “Hail Mary” was stunning. It was completely different from the electric version but it grabbed you more, it dug its claws in and I was singing my head off.

The other highlight was set finisher in “Watching Over Me”, a very personal song about his father which is the reason Kris is doing what he does and when you hear him on that guitar you can just imagine the pride his father had in him. This is a stunning blues number and played in the acoustic setting it seemed to have a higher meaning.

This band are set to shake the tree and I intend to be under it catching all the fruit that is dropped. This is a band set to make some huge waves.

No one can doubt Beth Hart is one of the biggest names in blues today. We get treated to her far too infrequently in this country so that was why I travelled to see her and after tonight’s show I would travel the seven seas to watch this woman perform.

You could hear a gasp as the lights went down, the seated audience were on the edge of their chairs, fingers dug into the arm rests and as Beth walked out with a pencil skirt, hair tied up and that sassy attitude the breath was released and the the greatest show on earth began with “Sinner’s Prayer”…and my first taste of those incredible vocal chords live melted my heart and slithered deep into my soul.

She followed quickly with “Delicious Surprise” and as well as the most original voice on the circuit we get to see the glint in her eyes, the slither in her hips and the love of what she does in her performance.

Next up is the first cover in “ If I Tell You I Love you” and although this may not be Beth’s song she takes it, shapes, it and wraps it up in so many layers of sex appeal it is dripping feminine guiles like a harem.

It is followed quickly by another cover in Billie Halliday’s “Don’t Explain”. Some of my favourite work of Beth’s has to be with Joe Bonamassa, they work so well together and like Joe, Beth loves to pay homage to her heroes and this song is one of the best ways to say thank you as it is just beautiful.

Beth has decided early on that tonight will not be a quick night. It is brilliant to see someone who does not visit so often these days ensure they pack everything they can into a show and it is gladly accepted.

As well as a monster 20 song set we get little stories like how she was a young teenager when she saw the boys on the beach and came up with the song “Coca Cola”. There were also so many highlights I do not know where to start but the first time I sat speechless and in awe was when Beth pulled up the piano stool and played “ One Eyed Chicken”. The power in this song was overwhelming and the first of many tears ran down my cheek. With this song we see the inside of Beth, the calm we see on stage is gone, the confidence shattered and we see a soul bared in front of our eyes.

The next song to stop me in my tracks was “ Take it Easy on Me” which Beth told us was a song she never played live, it was written for herself but her friend begged her to do it and I want to give a huge thanks to her as this was on a different level even for Beth. At this point I have to emphasise I am a rocker through and through. I love my music fast, loud and angry but thanks to a gig more than 30 years ago blues is always by my side. That night it was Rory Gallacher that showed me the way to music that goes so much deeper and in this song you cannot get much deeper. Beth’s masks and layers are stripped back and we see the scared and vulnerable young girl that sits within women of all ages. It also tells a story of love that Beth has through her skin, soaked through her pores, running through her veins and pumping in every beat of her heart. Once again the tears appeared and a memory for life was made.


The love story continued with “ We’re Still living in the City” another beautiful, piano led number dedicated to her husband who has seen it all and stood strong by her side…a story that everyone should be lucky enough to touch and hold even for just a passing moment.

From there we get the attitude back with “Broken and Ugly” and this gets the crowd on their feet but it is “Caught Out in the Rain” that tops every thing that has gone before. Live this song played like a movie. The acoustics of the venue let you feel every guitar stroke, every slow symbol crash. Beth takes on the main role as she sits on the edge of the stage. She slithers, she gyrates, she oozes passion and pain.

I would have paid anything just for this performance. It encapsulates everything Beth is about, it captures her voice, her love, her hate, her disappointment and most of all her ability. She grabbed every heart in this hall and she squeezed it till you could not catch your breath. I am sure I forgot to breath as I hung on every word, every flick of her hair and I followed the story to it’s conclusion.

We did get a three song encore but my memory will always be of how this song took me to another place, of how she painted a picture I fell inside of and wondered through its many brush strokes. I will never forget this song or this gig as long as I live.

Music has been my closest friend for nearly 40 years, through good and bad, through childhood, through relationships and it has never let me down. It is the one thing I can rely on. It is a time machine that can take me back in time with just the opening notes from a song and Beth Hart you have added to a lifetime of happiness and risen straight to the top. You were worth the wait, you were worth the travel and soon may you return again as I want to be right back in that hall, I want to be wrapped in your emotions, your love, your pain and I want that voice melting me from the inside out.


Images and words Ritchie Birnie