Even with immeasurable talent, not many are destined to rise to the top in the music business. Luck and timing have as much to do with success as either lightning speed on the guitar, or the number of octaves in your vocal range. To have reached a high point, let it slip away, and come back again stronger than ever… is quite remarkable.
But then again, so is Beth Hart.
Back in the late 90’s Beth Hart was a hot rising star. Drugs and an undiagnosed bi-polar disorder took a toll on her life and career. After getting help and finding love, it all turned around. Her song “My California,” was used in an episode of Californication, and her 2011 album Don’t Explain was a critically acclaimed collaboration with guitar genius, Joe Bonamassa. Since that time they have recorded a second album together, See Saw which has just been released.
Touring now in support of her Bang Bang Boom Boom album, Hart recently appeared for a sold-out three-night stand at the City Winery in New York City. This review is of the final show.
Finding her spot center stage, Beth Hart took her place behind the mic and showed just what sultry blues singing is all about. Opening with “Sinners Prayer,” the combination of the big bass beat, the crying guitar and a voice shaking the rafters, there was little doubt as to the potential of this night.
Beth Hart’s “Good as it Gets”
With a warm and open personality, it wasn’t hard for Hart to connect with the audience. Still up front she launched into “Well Well” and hit it hard. Dancing, enlisting the crowd and singing, Hart immediately turned up the energy level in the room. For the next song, while she settled down behind the keyboards to sing “Trouble,“ Hart was still able to amp up the vibe.
Beth Hart’s “Bang Bang Boom Boom”
Talking about her early attraction to the “bad boys,” Hart spoke of how her next song “Better Man” was written for her husband. It was the first song she played off Bang Bang Boom Boom, which was represented strongly throughout the night, including the next two songs: “With You Everyday” and “Thru The Window Of My Mind.” The latter, so packed with feeling on the album, translated just as powerfully live.
The title track from Bang Bang Boom Boom plays well live, as it’s easy to get the crowd involved. The same is true for the “Spirit Of God,” with its gospel influence. One of the most passionate songs on BBBB “Caught Out In The Rain,” was one which was eagerly anticipated seeing done live. No disappointment there. Taking the emotional journey through pain and resignation, Hart’s vocal hit your gut and grabbed your soul. It’s called singing the blues, and that’s what you feel when it’s done right.
Her encore consisted of four songs, including “Swing My Thing Back Around” and “The Ugliest House On The Block,” from Bang Bang Boom Boom. The last song of the night, “My California,” was done solo with Hart on an acoustic guitar. Though she clearly wanted to keep singing, it was time to leave the stage.
Whether doing a little scat, some Billie Holiday or her own compositions, Beth Hart held the audience and produced a first rate show. She has traveled a long, dark road to walk back into the sunshine. Thankfully, her creativity and vocal ability have remained intact throughout. With a voice that not only features strength, but also incredible range, hearing her sing live is a gift to be savored for the ninety or so minutes she is on stage.
If you are able to see her on this tour, consider yourself lucky. No doubt, the next time around, the venues she will be booked into will be larger. Beth Hart’s talent is once again knocking down doors and selling out shows. Go see one if you can.
Written by Kath Galasso
OurVinyl | Contributor
With You Everyday
Thru The Window Of My Mind
Lifts You Up
For My Friends
Ain’t No Way
Bang Bang Boom Boom
Spirit Of God
Caught Out In The Rain
Something’s Got A Hold On Me
Swing My Thing Back Around
The Ugliest House On The Block