March 5th 2013
The evening didn’t get off to a good start when I found out that the support act had been changed; but the sometimes to the overly chipper one man Blues band, Tristan McKay is a competent guitarist but his insistence on using effects pedals to pad out his ‘show’ did become increasingly annoying; especially as songs like Black Sheep don’t need such trivialities.
His acoustic version of Layla started off well enough, but when he did a tap dance on the array of pedals to give him a ‘loop of sound’ as he changed to a Stratocaster was just one trick too many for me.
Beth Hart on the other hand was like a breath of fresh air. Although she’s now released 10 albums since 1993 she has really come to prominence since recording the DON’T EXPLAIN album with Joe Bonamassa in 2011 and her latest release BANG BANG, BOOM BOOM NOW getting 5 star reviews everywhere.
The immaculately dressed band took to the stage first; and were soon followed by Ms. Hart wearing leopard print leggings and frilly white blouse which exposed an inordinate amount of cleavage. I was surprised to see Beth begin the show sitting at the piano; but the soulful I’ll Take Care of You and Sinners Prayer worked extraordinarily well and the warm reception they received eased any nerves she had.
Surrounded by a band that knew exactly what they were doing; the current Queen of the Blues spent the next hour strutting around the stage as if she owned it.
The tempo was quickly forced up to 110mph with Blues-Rockers from across her whole career interspersing the newer more commercial ones, with the twin Gibson Les Paul’s being un-caged to create a Link Wray like raw rumble throughoutDelicious Surprise and, of the new songs Better Man and Bang Bang; Boom Boom both sounded really special tonight and both received well deserved rapturous applause as they ended.
One delight was when Beth sat on a stool and turned Ugliest House on the Block into a stunning acoustic duet and her ‘wardrobe malfunction’ as she removed the guitar had several men at the front blushing like teenagers.
Caught Out In The Rain took on a new life as a Gospel inspired piece of Theatre with Beth Hart throwing herself into the song, body and soul; eventually dropping to her knees as the guitarists exchanged sweeping solos above and around her.
The pace obviously had to drop at some stage; and the piano and acoustic guitar adaptation of LA Song (out of this town) proved Hart’s range and songwriting skills are both exemplary; the story that introduced it tugged on the heartstrings too.
I absolutely loved tonight’s version of Chocolate Jesus with PJ Barth playing Joe Bonamassa’s guitar role with the greatest of ease and with the pace back up to 90mmph Is That Too Much To Ask? Had a bunch of girls dancing in the aisle.
The evening ended with Beth sitting cabaret style for a spellbinding version of the Classic I’d Rather Go Blind during which PJ made his guitar laugh and cry; then finally a heart-stopping Baddest Blues which she dedicated to her Mother.
My only gripe was that the concert was held in the wrong room at Sage Gateshead; as it would have been absolutely perfect in the smaller Hall 2.
The Blues means different things to different people but Beth Hart’s combination of Tina Turner glamour and attitude and Janis’s deep smoky voice are a marriage made in Music Heaven to me.