Grammy nominated American blues rock, jazz, soul, singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist Beth Hart is currently on her UK tour and MNPR Magazine caught up with the first date at the Regent Theatre in Ipswich.
I have been a fan of the Los Angeles born singer for as long as I can really remember but until now, a live performance has alluded me.
I’m not the luckiest person in life and my luck nearly left me again. Just a couple of days before the performance, Beth was suffering from severe food poisoning and cancelling the evening was a real possibility. Thankfully, Beth was seemingly fully recovered and if there were still any lingering symptoms, they were not on display.
Travelling from one side of the country to the other to see Beth was neither a chore nor a hassle as I was excited to see her in concert for the very first time.
The venue was Ipswich’s Regent Theatre, a recently refurbished 1551 all seated venue and East Anglia’s largest theatre.
Opening proceedings was UK born ex mixed martial arts professional Kris Barrass. Kris is a fairly recent discovery for me and I was looking forward to his high energy style of electric blues rock.
Alas, it was not be, Kris played an entirely acoustic set as a trio and this was actually a somewhat fitting and respectful way to start the evening.
Kris and the trio played 30mins of sheer acoustic brilliance, playing songs through his catalogue and from his recently released ‘The Divine and Dirty’ album.
As acoustically brilliant Kris and his band were, his performance seemed a little unnecessary and passed everyone by as 46-year-old Hart needs no support or introduction whatsoever, everyone knew why they were there.
The theatre was near capacity which surprised a few I spoke to as people in Suffolk are apparently not generally known for going out. Many big shows at the theatre have had pretty much half the seats available in the past. This just shows what talent lie in waiting.
From song one, Beth captivated and silenced the audience and commented on what such lovely listeners and a respectful an audience they were. “That’s because you’re worth listening to” someone cried.
Respectful they were, hanging on Beth’s every word.
Shouts of “I love you” and “you’re the greatest” rang out during the evening which Beth to personally and thanked the audience every time.
As well a being a phenomenal singer with a voice unsurpassed, another of Hart’s endearing qualities is her personable disposition and honest nature. Hart is not afraid to talk about her struggles with addiction and spoke about rehab and her struggles with depression and this aptly led into ‘Bottle of Jesus’, a song about such troubles. Beth also told a few tales of her childhood, and the mischievous things she got, and probably still does get up to.
Beth Hart and her band ripped through songs from her career and well as numbers from her side project with the American blues and rock superstar Joe Bonamassa, the hour and a half seemed to just fly by.
We all know Beth as having one of the most powerful and unique voices music will ever hear, but Hart is also a multi instrumentalist and a virtuoso pianist.
Many songs were played solo on the piano and with band, but it was the solo pieces that most stunned the audience, Beth could have played the whole evening with just her voice and the piano! What Beth can do with just the keys and her gritty, somewhat husky, sultry voice needs to be seen and heard to be believed. I can honestly see a Beth Hart ‘unplugged’ album in the not too distant future with just her and the piano. If there are no plans for this then I hope I may have planted the seed for such a record.
The night ended with a standing ovation, and cheers and chants of “one more song, one more song”. For what seemed like an eternity, the crowd cheered on and eventually Beth and the band returned to the stage for an encore.
Four more songs finished the evening off nicely and the encore started with a request from the crowd… “Chocolate Jesus” was shouted, and Beth willingly obliged.
Although the evening was labelled as ‘Beth Hart’, Hart made sure everyone was include and even had husband Scott bring out the drinks and mopping up spillages from the piano.
The was a time when Beth was sat on the stage floor, back to the crowd just watching her band play as if to tell the crowd, hey don’t forget the rest of band.
Beth is totally at home on the stage and is a proper rock chick at heart, but equally at home singing soul, jazz everything in between.
Beth put everything into this show and totally loved what she was doing. Her infectious presence and onstage fun translated to the audience and at one point security had to intervene with an over enthusiastic dancer.
If you haven’t seen Beth yet, I urge you to get to a show, there are limited tickets left on this tour but she’ll be back on these shores before you know it I bet you.