Beth Hart, November 2016, Royal Festival Hall, London, United Kingdom

Beth Hart

Wednesday 23rd November 2016

Royal Festival Hall, London, United Kingdom

John Bull at Rockrpix

 Beth sure draws a crowd to her shows. This particular performance was throughout so raw and fractured and open that it felt little short of an exorcism.There are no taboos or forbidden song subjects for Hart, she tells it like it is or was to tell her stories. A clearly dysfunctional family and social background has fuelled her lyrics in recent and it has to be said successful times. Sometimes when I listen to her perform I feel uncomfortable at her rawness ; others lap it up and I wonder what pleasure they gain from this. It could be a type of voyeurism but equally it may be grounded in empathy. A high proportion of the audience are female and I suggest that in essence Hart is operating in the same emotional territory as Nina Simone, sharing that troubled artist’s ability to speak openly. For all that, Beth remains equally musical and her piano playing this evening was terrific.

Elsewhere on the musical front a much fuller guitar tone from Jon Nicols would have added to the punch of the songs ; the bass sound was full but seemed to lack warmth (Bob Marinelli) and the drumwork from Bill Ransom was satisfying and inventive throughout the set. Nicols’ spiky solo’s were fine and had a linear drive when required.

When the band struck up, I watched the stage but Hart appeared two yards to my left up in the audience, glittery outfit and using all her emotive power to sing Billie Holiday’s Don’t Explain. If I Tell You I Love You echoed Thin Lizzy’s Don’t Believe A Word in spirit.   Can’t Let Go ached and Bang Bang Boom Boom was delivered with venom.

Love Is A Lie brought great applause and I’ll Take Care Of You put the Bobby Bland spirit across ;  Trouble bit hard and Lifts You Up was slightly less intense. One of the new album highlights Fat Man was a lovely, rhythmic inclusion and St Teresa put over with heart and passion. A hair-raising family tale preceded the harrowing Sister Heroine. Maybe the summit of the plainspeaking numbers was Leave The Light On, which would leave a lump in any throat. Does the act of performing sets like this salve Hart in any way ? The painful experiences are part of what she is, but are they fuel ?

Other peaks songwise included my favourite selection Delicious Surprise, the strident Tell Her You Belong To Me with a story about her father, Fire On The Floor from her latest release. The show closed with I’d Rather Go Blind, another audience pleaser.

Heart on her sleeve, Bet Hart leaves another hallful of people emotionally shaken up. Bittersweet to the max

Pete Sargeant


Photo Credit: John Bull at Rockrpix

Beth Hart has announced her biggest UK headline show at The Royal Albert Hall, London, United Kingdom on Friday 4th May 2018. Tickets are onsale now and for more information and purchase links go here:

In addition, you can read our full review of Beth Hart’s new studio album ‘Fire On The Floor’ here:




Rockrpix is John Bull… or John Bull is Rockrpix… Much the same. I’m based in South East London… and I love shooting Live Music, Keep Music Live! – Its my ‘Thing’