Beth Hart has progressively played at bigger and grander venues as her career has developed and a solo show at the Royal Albert Hall demonstrates just how far she has come for the first time I saw her at Dingwalls in Camden.
The show was a sell-out. In fact I saw people on the seventh tier of the grand old place, a very rare occurrence, and it seemed as though she had people there from all over Europe – two Dutch ladies in the aisle next to me had made the trip to London just for the one day – and the emotion in the crowd was electric.
Hart started in the audience, suddenly appearing in the arena aisle and singing an acapella version of ‘As Long As I Have A Song’ with the crowd high-fiving her as she made her way to the stage.
As ever, she had a tight band with her and their playing was a perfect backdrop to her incredibly personal songs but they were only a backdrop to her powerful songs and belting vocals.
The set mixed up her rockier numbers with the ballads but the greatest crowd reaction was for the heart-wrenching songs such as ‘Baddest Blues’ or ‘Tell Her You Belong To me’ and when she nearly broke down on the intro to ‘Sister Heroine’ – a song to her late sister – you could feel the emotional lift from the crowd willing her on. This is a lady who doesn’t hide her past or hide behind it either and the crowd always seem to react to her honesty and fractured weakness.
Much to the chagrin of her security team she suddenly jumped back down into the crowd for another round of hugs and high-five plus selfies left right and centre and when she got back to the stage she tore into the gut-wrenching ‘Spiders In My Bed’.
Closing the set on tear-jerkers is not common but it is very Beth Hart. ‘Leave The Light On’ is beautiful and emotional to the extreme and her song ‘Mama This One’s For You’ would melt the hardest heart.
Beth Hart is probably the best soul singer in the world right now and her vulnerability and openness is guaranteed to endear the audience to her.
Photo by Christie Goodwin