A dimly lit stage accepts the night’s entertainment joyously- Jon Nichols, Bob Marinelli, and Bill Ransom reach their respective instruments and take the preliminary strum or hit. “When You Need Somebody” by Davy Watson plays overhead, as the crowd erupts in preparation for the woman of the evening: the always fantastic Beth Hart. I say “always” because: 1. This is my second show of hers, and 2. I haven’t heard any different. From my last Beth Hart show review, I declared she is one of the best vocals in blues/rock, and maybe even beyond- and I stand behind that.
Beth arrived on the stage with a contagious energy, picking everyone up from their seats. The band blazed into “Miss Lady”, a high energy blues number from Buddy Miles, that set the tone of the night. Simply put- This was gonna be a fun show. Overdriven guitar, heavy handed drums, thumping bass, and Beth Hart’s searing vocal tone filled the Van Buren (the latest venue part of the Stateside Presents family), and a belting Janice Joplin-esque scream from Beth drove the crowd wild. “Let’s Get Together” (from her latest release Fire on the Floor) provided a great transition- with a ‘The Supreme’-esque vocal melody and upbeat instrumental- for her to go into the sexy “Close To My Fire”, a cover from the German electronic duo Slackwax that Beth and Joe revamped for their collaborative album Seesaw.
“This next song is inspired by a movie, about a man cheating on his wife, and the wife picks herself back up, goes out and finds herself a young man. This one’s called ‘Baby Shot Me Down’.”
The Wah-fueled guitars replace the keys of the recorded version, and while the energy of the original is fun, this live version encapsulated the venue. I think Beth could put on a great show in front of one person, but seats filled with adoring fans definitely helps to contribute to a fantastic show. Especially on songs like “Delicious Surprise”, a high energy rock tune that ended with the audience chanting the chorus.
Beth moved to the piano for the next selection of songs, including “Coca Cola”, “Bang Bang Boom Boom”, and, what I think included one of Beth’s best vocal performances of the night, “Love is the Baddest Blues”. Her beautiful top end vibrato and vocal charisma truly shine on the song, as well as her talent behind the keys.
Beth returns to the front for “Them There Eyes”, made popular by Billie Holiday in the late 1930’s. The crowd hopped out of their seats to groove along, and Beth dropped to her knees for an impromptu scat solo. The retro vibes continued with a touch of smooth, sly, and scandalous for “Your Heart Is As Black As Night”, a track from Melody Gardot.
Beth and Jon opted for the acoustic guitars, and Beth gave us some insight on the next song-
“Did you see my brother out there running merch? Did you see how cute and sweet he is? This song was originally written for one of his girlfriends. She was so crazy and so fun. When they would come over for a family dinner, she would be drunk and make the biggest scene, which would really upset my sister, Susan, and I just thought she was the greatest thing ever! Someone as crazy or crazier than me. So I wrote this song for the both of us- It’s called ‘Get Your Shit Together’.”
Beth pointed out her mom (an Arizona resident) from behind the piano before going solo into “Mama This One’s For You” and “I’ll Leave the Light On”, which featured the band in the latter half. Beth’s ability to compose a timeless ballad is what some songwriters strive to achieve, yet Beth has the ability to write anything.
No show is complete without an encore. Beth’s happened to include songs from her new album, like “Fat Man”, “Love is a Lie”, the title track “Fire on the Floor”, and the crowing joule of the night- “No Place Like Home”, which featured Beth solo behind the piano. She displayed a vulnerability in her vocals through the verses, and strength in the chorus. The crowd seemed to be glued to the stage as the night came to an end. There was no better way to end the show (and this review)-
“Go home and take good care of each other!”