Beth Hart

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author BV date 23/07/14 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

On these excessively hot summer days, it’s hard to gather up the necessary willpower to go to gigs. However, given the several nudges of encouragement given to me by a good friend, Beth Hart’s sold out show at Amager Bio last night seemed like one of those performances one probably shouldn’t miss. Having spent a small part of the afternoon on interviewing Beth Hart with aforementioned friend, we returned in the evening to defy the sweltering heat in anticipation of a memorable performance.

All photos by Kenny Swan

Beth Hart

As Beth Hart and her band took the stage, the crowd and the band both seemed to need a few moments to adjust to the horrendously hot climate inside the venue. Meaning, of course, that the bluesy efforts throughout the opening tracks “Sinner’s Prayer” and “Can’t Let Go” were delivered confidently, but lacked the sort of punch that I had been told would be dominant throughout a Beth Hart show. Luckily, heat adjustments aside, Beth Hart and her band soon picked up the pace and launched into a highly memorable version of “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” – driven forward by the steadily grooving basslines and the merciless, yet melodic pounding on the drums. Naturally, a slow and soulful blues track like this is perfectly suited for a voice as powerful as Beth Hart’s. At times it would seem like she barely had any use for her microphone as her tender voice would turn to primal screams delivered with a ferocity seldom seen, making her a veritable femme fatale as a front woman – equal bits awe-inspiring and intriguing, whilst also deeply intimidating to listen to. Obviously, one should hardly overlook the unnervingly crisp guitar playing by Jon Nichols and P.J. Barth, delivering the bluesy notes in a ferocity that matched the stage demeanor of their front-woman.

With “Learning to Live”, the applause told me everything I needed to know. It’s a hit, and a huge one at that. The crowd was completely mesmerized by the sheer accessibility and memorable nature of the song’s lyrics, as well as the utterly endearing instrumentals. At times, it seems like the easy choice for most people is to write off Beth Hart as a pop artist and on the studio recording of this particular track, I’d be prone to agree. But once you see this woman perform live, utilizing the raw power of her immense voice backed by a deeply rocking band, it should, by all means, erase any sort of doubt about her stylistic approach. What we are dealing with here, is a bluesy, soul-inspired singer in a distinctly rocking setting. With “Sister Heroine” the band once again mesmerized the crowd. At first by using Hart’s melodious piano-playing, then continuing the captivating séance with the full band underlining the deeply gutting sadness of this crowd-pleasing ballad. The transition from such a soulful moment into a sort of peculiarly upbeat type of swagger with “Bang Bang Boom Boom” came off as strangely ingenious, as it portrayed the wide range of dynamics present at the show.

With “Caught Out in the Rain”, Beth Hart and her band calmed down the proceedings once more, before they would eventually leave the stage. The distinctly low-key track was impressive in the sense that, although the soundscape was unnervingly mellow, the crowd-chatter that had seemed to spread like a wildfire during the first 6 songs or so had now come to a complete halt, proving that Hart and her band had finally wrapped the entire crowd around their collective pinky – demonstrating total crowd control. Drummer Bill Ransom and bassist Bob Marinelli played their fair part in delivering this particular track with such an attitude that it was hard, if not impossible, to avert one’s eyes from the performance. As the band left the stage, not a long time went by before the crazed stomping of the crowd had them return to do no less than five encore songs.

As they first opened the encore set with the underplayed “My California”, only to then progress into “L.A. Song”, the crowd still seemed to take everything in, as if missing a single moment of this would be the single worst thing to happen on this night. As Beth Hart introduces the track, apparently known as “Stinky Feet”, she recalled its origins by telling a fascinatingly hilarious story about her being on her period and, apparently, being disgusted by the way her husband’s feet smelled. - All tongue-in-cheek, of course. As she played her way through the quite funny track, her husband saw it fit to pull off one of his socks only to gently wave it in front of her for a few seconds, before running off again with a massive grin on his face. There’s a certain sense of allure to a show like this, where the band is not only highly professional, but also able to take the piss out of each other whilst doing it. It’s a full show, not just a gig. As things returned to the more serious matters with the final track of the night, “Trouble”, Beth Hart and her band left the crowd in a state of heat-stricken pleasure that was quite unmistakable. It was that sense of complete fulfillment, where the hardcore fans of her material seemed satisfied, and the more casual listeners had gotten what they paid for (and more). There’s no denying this particular woman’s vocal qualities, but as a performing artist in the live setting she is downright unbelievable. I had my fair share of doubt towards the show before I entered, but I’ll simply have to admit she won me over; plain and simple, fair and square. She and her band worked hard for it, and the end result was undeniable.

9

Setlist:

  • 1. Sinner's Prayer
  • 2. Can't Let Go
  • 3. Delicious Surprise
  • 4. I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know
  • 5. Thru The Window Of My Mind
  • 6. Learning To Live
  • 7. Good As It Gets
  • 8. Rhymes
  • 9. If I Tell You I Love You I'm Lyin'
  • 10. Waterfalls
  • 11. Sister Heroine
  • 12. Bang Bang Boom Boom
  • 13. Better Man
  • 14. Caught Out In The Rain

--Encore--

  • 15. My California
  • 16. L.A. Song
  • 17. Stinky Feet
  • 18. Leave The Light On
  • 19. Trouble

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