BETH HART + KRIS BARRAS DUO – BRIGHTON DOME 05.02.20
There was an air of anticipation at Brighton Dome last night, the audience was full of many mature souls and old rockers who had brought their partners along to see Beth Hart. The atmosphere began with “Right, impress us, we’ve seen it all” and ended the evening with “We love you, Beth, thank you for your music and for sharing everything of yourself with us”.
Beth Hart is an American singer and songwriter of primarily blues rock. She was born in Los Angeles in 1972 and is currently living there with her protector, supporter and love, Scott Guetzkow, her husband and road manager. She began playing clubs in Hollywood from age 15, forming ‘Beth Hart and The Ocean of Souls’ with Tal Herzberg and Jimmy Khoury, with whom she produced her first album, ‘Immortal’ in 1996. Hart first achieved solo fame following her 1999 single ‘LA Song (Out of This Town)’ from her 2nd album, ‘Screamin’ For My Supper’ which was successful in both US and New Zealand. Her 2nd album, ‘Leave The Light On’ also broke through into the European market, despite the fact that she had been dropped by Atlantic, possibly as a result of her drug addiction.
She has famously collaborated with the great Joe Bonamassa on three albums since 2010, but other collaborations include those with Slash, Born, and Jeff Beck, touring with the latter in 2014. (Jeff Beck, incidentally, was also spotted in last night’s audience). Several awards and nominations for Female Blues Artist later and, at 47, she is mid tour promoting her latest album with ‘War In My Mind’. The writing of the album seems to have aided Hart in finally exorcising her childhood demons, controlling her mental health issues and dealing with the sad loss of one of her sisters; as she says, “I’ve come a long way with healing, and I’m comfortable with my darknesses, weirdnesses and things that I’m ashamed of – as well as all the things that make me feel good.”
Brighton Dome is her third gig of 2020, midway through a continuing world tour. Hart arrived on stage after sashaying down the aisle, with her protective husband and road manager, Scott, holding back any over-exuberant fans, but allowing her to interact with the audience, which she seemed to enjoy throughout the evening, she came across as brave and beautiful but fragile and therefore pretty compelling to watch.
‘There In Your Heart’ was her first number, her amazing vocals solely accompanied by Nichols on guitar and she made it clear what an important role her husband, Scott, plays in her life, supporting, protecting and loving her. Hart obviously draws a lot of strength from their relationship and his presence keeps her able to maintain a balance and to flourish both in her professional and private life. Next up was ‘Close To My Fire’, quickly followed by ‘Lifts You Up’ in which she got the audience up, but they were yet to defrost despite her great ‘scatting’ mid song. ‘Delicious Surprise’, written, Hart told us, for a sister with whom she was having therapy to improve their relationship, was raw, rocking blues. ‘Tell Her You Belong To Me’ was written for her father, and was full of her passion for him and anger against his new partner, her amazing vocals melting the audience’s last defences. It is difficult to describe her singing style, what comes through very naturally is a mix of passion, pain, fragility, sexiness and pure sass, think Janis Joplin, Billie Holliday and Marilyn Monroe combined!
Hart sung ‘Rub Me For Luck’ next which could be a beautiful Bond theme, dramatic and passionate, with plenty of rise and fall. And so we went through all emotions with her: ‘Bang Bang Boom Boom’ and ‘Bad Woman Blues’ (pure lust and sensuality), ‘War In My Mind’ (pain); ‘Sister Dear’ (regret) and ‘Mama This One’s For You’ (love). ‘Coca Cola’ was up next, Hart explained that when she was about ten she’d been taken to the beach and first noticed boys, she thought “Mmm, I bet they taste like Coca Cola, the tastiest drink she had experienced to date”. Hart later discovered that boys tasted of far nicer flavours, she suggestively giggled.
By this time in the set, the audience were in the palm of her hand, thirsty for the next anecdote and each song, whether Latin influenced, ‘Baby Shot Me Down’ or the final number, a jazzy blues cover of ‘Lullaby of The Leaves’.
By the time Hart sang her encores, seated cross-legged at the front of the stage, reminiscent of that other fragile singer, Judy Garland, we were all rooting for her, she held us spellbound. She thanked the Brighton Dome crowd for making her feel so welcome and safe and was overcome with unbidden tears, while singing her aptly named last song ‘Thankful’. Emotionally drained, we left the concert thankful to have seen such a talented, sensual and natural talent perform her beautiful songs.
Jon Nichols (guitar)
Tom Lilly (bass)
Bill Ransom (drums)
Beth Hart setlist reads:
‘There In Your Heart’
‘Close To My Fire’
‘Lifts You Up’
‘Tell Her You Belong To Me’
‘Rub Me For Luck’
‘Bang Bang Boom Boom’
‘Spirit Of God’
‘War In My Mind’
‘Mama This One’s For You’
‘Without Words In The Way’
‘Baby Shot Me Down’
‘If I Tell You I Love You’
‘Lullaby Of The Leaves’ (cover of Petkere & Young song)
For further information on Beth, visit her website – www.bethhart.com
Kris Barras Duo (Kris Barras & Josiah J Manning)
Kris Barras and his band have had a speedy rise in popularity for their version of exciting blues rock, resulting in gigs with Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Jon Bon Jovi, Black Stone Cherry, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Walter Trout amongst many other luminaries. I have an image in my head of what a cage fighter would look like, ripped and covered in tattoos, and Barras matches it… probably because the Devon born singer was a successful fighter prior to launching his career as a musician a couple of years ago.
He gave us a great acoustic set of six songs last night, the lack of full band mellowing his usual powerhouse sound, but not to any detriment, for me it showed how good all the songs were. He and Manning duetted very skilfully throughout on their acoustic guitars which combined well with Kris’ pleasantly rough vocals and enjoyable songs. He seemed to be apologetic that they were unable to blast the audience with loud electric guitar riffs.
‘Ignite (Light It Up)’, and ‘Vegas Son’, were favourites from his new album ‘Light It Up’ and ‘Hail Mary’ from ‘The Divine & Dirty’ album. Barras and Manning also performed a very nice version of The Allman Brothers Band’s ‘Midnight Rider’. I predict great things for Barras, we look forward to watching his rise.
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