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Concert Reviews

Beth Hart, Arielle Hot

Added by ant-rocks     November 02, 2021    
 
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At the end you feel emotionally wrung out as if you have had two hours of exquisite therapy, it's a cathartic release of every emotion you didn't know you were feeling

BETH HART, ARIELLE
Bournemouth: Solent Hall – 25th October 2021

There has been a huge amount of interest in Arielle over recent years, discovered by Nuno Bettancourt and chosen by Brian May to perform in the musical 'We Will Rock You', opening for the likes of Heart, Guns 'n' Roses and Joe Bonamassa, having Brian May create and name a guitar for her; it seemed after a long struggle to be taken seriously she has finally made it. So the stakes are pretty high for tonight's performance, the early 7pm start means the auditorium is largely empty which is never encouraging for support acts. The first thing to note is that despite being 31 she looks about 17, and is so tiny she is hidden behind her assorted guitars. With a vintage patched suede skirt and hair long enough to sit on she presents as the stereotypical California singer/songwriter girl, her voice is sweet, pure and breathy. She sings a mix of her own songs and her take on such classics as 'Over the Rainbow' interspersed with slightly stilted chats about moments in her life. She left the stage after twenty minutes to muted applause.

The auditorium starts to fill, after a while the lights start to dim, some of the audience start looking over their shoulders to the back of the room subtly identifying themselves as previous Beth Hart concert goers, as she usually makes her entrance walking through the audience; however Hart confounds us by bouncing on to the stage from the wings. She wears a black cocktail dress over leggings and her feet are bare, she needs no additional sparkle, her stage persona does that for her. She grins at the audience telling them how excited she is to be back on stage after the last eighteen months of this crazy world, then, solo, she offers up a prayer in the form of an unaccompanied version of 'I'll Take Care Of You'. My friend shivered and whispered "I've got goose bumps". As Hart finishes there is stunned silence momentarily before the audience explodes into applause, many of them standing. At this, in true open Hart fashion, she announces she's probably going to cry a lot tonight and that she's given up smoking, gleefully pointing to her nicotine patches and hunting the stage for her bamboo stick which is her placebo cigarette, which once found doesn't leave her hand for the rest of the evening.

The band joins her on stage for a really "go for it" raunchy version of 'Bad Woman Blues'. Hart's naughtiness comes to the fore as she introduces guitarist Jon Nicholls and says "I love you so much I could suck your face right off". This is the "something" that makes Hart special, she makes no bones about her struggles with mental illness (she's bi-polar) and her past addictions; one of the secrets to her recovery is that she is surrounded by good people who clearly adore her. Equally her love for them is open and endearing. She delights in announcing the return of her old bassist Tom Lilley on double bass and her drummer Bill Ransom.

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I first saw Hart ten years ago at a small venue, she sat on the stage and told stories of her life and engaged with the audience, I thought then it was the intimacy of a small venue, but Hart still sits on the edge of the stage, shares stories of her life and manages to make thousands of people feel she is performing to them individually.

'Your Heart Is As Black As Night' is a sultry, slow Blues song that shows her chops and honestly, if she is never chosen to sing a Bond Theme it will be one of the biggest crimes to music. 'Tell Her You Belong To Me' is a live show favourite; she wrote it for her Father when he moved in with another woman, a "monster", which caused Hart great pain, it is heartrending. This time she reveals that in recent years her Father is back in her life and the rather fun 'Try A Little Harder' is her imagining what it would be like to be him when he was a gambler in Vegas. She also adds that he lives in the wilds and feeds the local bears from his hand, she chuckles; "he's where I get my craziness from".

The band all bring stools and drums to the front of the stage and form an intimate little Jazz quartet for 'Fat Man', 'Spanish Lullabies', and 'Lullaby Of The Leaves'. Hart then moves back to the piano for her song to God 'Take It Easy On Me', another song from her soul. The mood is then perfect for 'My California', written for her husband and Tour Manager Scott Guetzkow. She explains that she met him at her worst, she weighed six and half stones and had no hair, but he took her on and as she says "I'm so unbelievably lucky that he's still with me after twenty years". A few bars into the song she pauses "I can feel the tears coming", the audience waits, spellbound, while she collects herself and a voice from the back says "You can do it Beth", and she does. As always Scott comes on stage at the end, kisses her and leads her from the stage; which caused my friend to lean in and say "Why can't I find a man who looks at me like that after twenty years".

Beth Hart is one of our greatest living singers; she has a power to her voice that many male singers cannot emulate. When she hits those big notes she has to pull the mic to arm's length to avoid rattling the speakers, those huge notes not only seem effortless, you can tell there is more in there. There are many singers, such as Adele and Ga Ga who have superb voices and huge vocal "feel", but Hart genuinely experiences every emotion she's singing as she sings it. The audience can feel it, and are taken on her journeys with her. During her live performance you laugh, you feel joy; you feel sadness, and gut wrenching heartbreak. At the end you feel emotionally wrung out as if you have had two hours of exquisite therapy, it's a cathartic release of every emotion you didn't know you were feeling.

After some joshing with her husband about being allowed to do an encore she goes off set list to sing 'La Story' for a couple in the audience she had bumped into that afternoon, they'd just got married and claimed it as their favourite song. The show closes with 'I'd Rather Be Blind' and finally Scott whisks her off stage to a thunderous, and deserved, standing ovation from the audience.

Helen Bradley

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