Beth Hart – Symphony Hall, Birmingham – 11th November 2016

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Tonight’s opening act is Canadian musician Colin James. He’s not playing with a full band – instead he’s joined by Chris Caddell performing as a duo.  Both spend the set seated playing acoustic guitar while Colin James sings. As well as some of his own material, he plays a Muddy Waters song.  It’s a good set – nice blues music but with the seated acoustic nature of the set it’s fairly laid back, but that doesn’t stop the audience enjoying it and he gets a huge round of applause at the end of the set.  A good start to the night.

The band took to the stage for the start of Beth hart’s set, but there was no sign of her.  Then we heard her singing but where was she?  The answer for most people was “She’s behind you”, as the entered through a rear door and made her way down the aisle to the front , singing as she went (as well as shaking hands or being hugged by fans). For the whole of the first song (Billie Holiday’s “Don’t explain”) she stayed in the audience before going on stage as the song ended. It’s just one example of how a Beth Hart show is unpredictable.  While many artists play the same set every night, Beth’s setlist changes on a nightly basis, and she regularly ignores what’s on the setlist in order to play a song that the audience requested, or just because she was in the mood to do something different to what was planned.

For the next couple of songs she focuses on the vocals alone, moving around the stage and clearly enjoying herself, then for “Broken & ugly” she took a seat and played guitar as she sang while for other songs she plays piano as she sings.  She genuinely cares about the fans and after one song where she sat on the edge of the stage near one side, she apologised to the fans on the balconies on that side saying she hadn’t realised they couldn’t see her there.

Beth Hart shows range from lively with songs such as “Nutbush city limits” which had the whole audience on their feet, to softer and very emotional songs such as “My California” which she dedicates to her husband Scott (who came on and hugged her at the end).  The last part of the set saw the band leave the stage with Beth performing solo on the piano and singing, and together with her talking to the audience between songs, it lent a very intimate feel to things.

Beth Hart is a truly amazing singer – her voice can carry so much emotion or belt out the rockier songs with a load of power.  I go to a lot of concerts and listen to a lot of albums and am convinced there isn’t another singer around who comes close to Beth Hart.  A fantastic show from an amazing singer.  It’s no surprise to see her popularity growing steadily, and her tour is almost completely sold out.

Setlist:

Don’t explain
If I tell you I love you
For my friends
Broken & ugly
Sait Theresa
You belong to me
Baddest blues
Love is a lie
Jazz man
Coca cola
Waterfalls
Might as well smile
Sister Heroine
Take it easy on me
Mama this one’s for you
My California

Encore:
Nutbush city limits
Fat man
Fire on the floor
No place like home