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The Beth Hart Band Rocks the Blockley

March 1, 2011
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When: Saturday, February 26th, 2011
Where: The Blockley1, on the SW corner of 38th & Ludlow


Wow!

Man, I really hate to do this to everyone who wasn’t able to attend the show, but…dear lord…I’ve never seen anything like that, and I’ve been to a bunch of concerts.  This will come off sounding like so much hyperbole, but the fact is, words cannot express how awesome that show was. And that’s not to just let myself off the hook as a writer because if you think about it, if words were enough, why the music?  See what I mean?  I’m going to do my best, but the truth is, you had to be there; I now realize there’s no substitute for seeing – and hearing – Beth Hart live.

Beth taking a smoke break while the band jams

Anyway, so there I was: me, the Mrs, and 700 of our newest, closest friends in the City of Brotherly Love.  700 people from 30 different states and four different countries, all there to see Beth Hart live.  And like many of you, my only experience with Beth Hart “live” was “Live at Paradiso”, and I knew, I just knew there was no way she’d be able to replicate that.  She set the bar too high, and those lucky European bastards got the show of a lifetime.  I knew this going in and I was OK with it.  Still, I hoped that she might get close.  I hoped that I might be able to walk away from the show and tell my friends, “Yeah, it was probably as good as Paradiso”, but privately, I knew my expectations were totally out of line with reality.  No way she’d put on another performance like that again.  No way.

Well, I was wrong.

Not only was the Blockley gig “as good” as Paradiso, I think it was arguably better in many ways.  The first is, there were more songs for her to play.  For example, we heard stuff from “My California” that the Paradiso crowd didn’t get to hear.  AND we got to hear stuff from “37 Days” that the Paradiso crowd didn’t get to hear.  And another thing is, we got to hear Todd Wolf, BHB drummer since 37 days, who tore it up from the floor up, and as guitar player, I don’t even pay that much attention to the percussion, other than as a timing reference.  Todd made me pay attention!  That dude flat out got after it!

OK, so back to the title of this post: The Beth Hart Band rocks the Blockley.  There’s a very specific reason it’s not titled simply (and incompletely), “Beth Hart Rocks the Blockley” (which sounds a bit cooler, I admit), and its because the Beth Hart Band is what rocked the Blockley last Saturday night!  The BHB delivered the goods!  That being said, make no mistake: Beth is clearly the star of the show (and I’m not just referring to her voice), and keeping with that astronomical analogy, the rest of the band are like planets orbiting her musical center of gravity; a sonic solar system.  From my vantage point2 (right off Jon Nichols right hip) I was able to clearly see the nods, eye contact, hand signals, etc by which the BHB communicated with one another.  Maybe it helps that I had a periodically shitty vantage point to focus exclusively on Beth, which is definitely what I’d have done if I’d have lined up in the front row – like I should have done – because it basically forced me to watch some of the other action going on when I couldn’t see Beth.  It made me pay more attention to the band, and I’m glad I did.  Those guys are tight!

Tom Lilly on the bass, Todd Wolf on the drums

First, take a look at the set list.  Thank goodness I was able to get a picture of it, because the copies Scott (Beth’s husband) handed out after the show disappeared faster than government funded bonuses at AIG.

Click on the picture for a larger (i.e., “readable”) version

The Gameplan (aka, the setlist)

  1. Mama
  2. Sober
  3. Sick
  4. Good as it Gets
  5. Chocolate Jesus
  6. Lifetime
  7. LA Song
  8. Stinky Feet
  9. Waterfalls
  10. Delicious
  11. Lifts you up
  12. Sister Heroine
  13. World without you
  14. Monkey Back
  15. Ugliest House
  16. Leave the Light on
  17. Immortal
  18. My California
  19. Weight of the World

*Note* The songs with hyperlinks are songs *not* recorded at the 2/26/2011 Blockley gig

Now, having seen the set list, I can tell you that she didn’t follow it exactly, and I apologize, but I can’t remember everything she played, nor can I remember the order she played it in.  But it’s pretty damned close to the set list.  I was going to try and take notes on my Blackberry, but I didn’t want to take my eyes off of the show for a split second, so what you’re going to get is the best my (admittedly) flawed memory can produce.

When Beth took the stage she INSTANTLY owned the whole joint.  She had us all from “hello”, didn’t she?  In the first 5 seconds I knew that she was a true rock star; the charisma radiated off her like a space heater.  The energy level in the place just skyrocketed, and she was just starting the show!

A few of you folks have already uploaded clips to youtube, and I’ve included the one’s I’ve been able to find thus far.  Just keep in mind that what you hear through your computer/phone is nowhere near as awesome as it was live.  I was there; trust me on this.

Mama
This isn’t the song *I* would have picked to open, which just goes to show why I wasn’t the featured act.  It totally worked, and she had total control of the crowd in less than 1 minute.  And I hate to sound repetitive, but the sound you hear on this clip is not as good as the sound from the Live at Paradiso version, but neither are anywhere close to actually being there.  Maybe it was the energy from the crowd, which is something that would probably be impossible to capture anyway, but still, I feel the need to point out that on any of these videos, multiply the “awesome quotient” by at least a factor of 10.  Minimum.

LA Song
Beth opened this song with an absolutely disgusting story that involved a former boyfriend and a dingleberry.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to listen to it in the same way again.  Nevertheless, the performance produced a genuine – call me corny – but it produced a genuine “feel good” vibe through the entire place.  Everybody, to include yours truly, was singing along, and the experience was very, um…bonding, I suppose.  Bonding in the City of Brotherly Love.  Sure, why not?

Waterfalls
I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t really listened to this song that much.  However, I blame it on the fact that I have a hard time getting past “One Eyed Chicken” or “Soul Shine”.  Nevertheless, it reminded me – or provoked me – into remembering (realizing?) that this is a kick-ass song, and I’m gonna re-listen to it to and from my commute to work this week.

Lifts you up
Beth says that Jon came up with the idea to put a twist on this song.  They play it all the time and were looking to mix it up, so Jon suggested the put some funk into it.  And boy did they!  I actually didn’t recognize it as “Lifts you Up” until she got to the chorus and I was like, “Hey, I know this song!”  Very cool to hear a different version of a song you love.  Almost like Beth Hart doing a cover of a Beth Hart song.

Leave the Light On
Listen to the video and it’s easy to hear people singing along with the song.  And to that point, I’m looking around, and there’s a big, burly lookin dude in the front row, and sure enough I see him mouth the words, “I went from zero to minus ten, I drank your wine and I stole your man”.  Only Beth has the power to make a man sing along with lyrics like that.

Immortal
A few posts ago I challenged Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society to attempt to cover “Immortal”.  Of course, I was comparing it to the Live at Paradiso version, which in my mind, was the coolest thing I’d ever heard.  Up until I heard it live.  Zakk, if you happen to read this, I will go ahead and release you from the challenge as I now realize any singing competition against Beth Hart is an exercise in futility.  I know, I know…I’ve already heard from a few faithful metalheads on redit that they couldn’t see how I could possibly make this comparison.  For what it’s worth, it’s because I know a goddamn fuckload about music, that’s why.  And besides that, I’m right.  And besides, as I’ve already stated, I’m a Zakk Wylde fan, and I don’t wanna see him lose any more than you guys do.  Let’s just forget I even suggested it.  The whole thing was a song request anyway, and since the only person who reads my posts and thinks I’m clever is me, this is basically a “no harm, no foul” type situation.

Suffice it to say that Beth rocked this song in a way that gave me goosebumps.  And speaking of goosebumps, Beth also did “One Eyed Chicken” (video from “37 Days”), and at this point in the night (late), I’m packed in the room with 700 people, I’m still wearing my coat (because it was cold outside) and so I’ve been hovering right at “uncomfortably warm” (as opposed to uncomfortably numb) for a couple hours, and sure enough, when Beth barks out, “I’m like a one eyed chicken and a two legged Daaawwwg”…I get goosebumps.  I’m sweating, but she gives me goosebumps.  WTF is up with that?  It literally happens to me every time I hear that song.  100% of the time.

Am I the One (video from Live at Paradiso)
Yep.  She did it.  I know, it’s not on the set list.  How cool is that, huh?  She worked her ass off up there and still dug a little deeper to give us something extra.  “Am I the one”, which – recall – is the #1 Sexiest Song ever recorded – was a gift, from Beth, to us.

Change is gonna come
This was the last song of the night, and it just couldn’t have been any more perfect.  It capped the mood for the entire show, and was a perfect way to wrap up an evening of sonic bliss.

Beth, Jon, Todd, Tom (plus David, Scott, and unseen sound guys and other supporting cast), thanks.  That was awesome.


Honorable Mention
There were three other singers (all female; it was a “Girl Power” night at The Blockley, so to speak) who had the (enviable/unenviable?) job of warming up the crowd for Beth: Gina Sicilia, Christine Santellia, and VK Lynne.  The really cool thing was, they all played original music; their music, their songs.

Gina had a soulful sound that – and I don’t mean this in any negative way – reminded me of Pam Tillis for some reason.  She could definitely do country, and make it work.  As it happened, she did some “bluesy/folksy” stuff…and made it work.  I thought she did a good job.  

Christine Santellia, despite singing all original songs and generally doing a kick ass job (it was just her and her husband, the drummer, in a very White Stripes/Black Keys guitar-player-singer/drummer duo kind of thing), she sounded almost exactly like Melissa Etheridge.  I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but from my standpoint, I thought it was a good thing.  Holy shit!  Seriously!  Melissa-freakin-Etheridge!  “Hey Doc, am I ever going to play piano again?  No, but you’ll sound exactly like Melissa Etheride. [thinks about it for a split second] Aw, fuck it.  Beth Hart already has the market cornered on kick-ass-rocker-chick-keyboard players, so I’ll just pick up this here acoustic guitar and proceed to sound awesome.”

And VK Lynne… Wow!  I’m not sure how to characterize her sound.  I know I railed against this earlier, but I think in special circustances we (writers) should have artistic license to use “awesome” any damn way we choose.  And, taking said license, I hearby file VK Lynne as sounding just like “Awesome”.  Dude (and dudettes ~ and don’t think I didn’t notice that there were quite a few dudettes at the show! ;) , she opened with an a capella bit where the crowd’s snapping fingers were the percussive accompaniment.  That takes both talent and chutzpah, so…good on ya’ VK!

VK Lynne looking and sounding awesome!


Notes

  1. Fellow fans: I “interviewed” (sorta) Ned Taddei via phone a week or so before the show and learned that this show wouldn’t have happened – and our current memories wouldn’t be as rich as they are – without a massive effort on his part.  Send him an e-mail saying thanks, or better yet (for you local fans), go spend some money in the Blockley, and see if you can get Ned to bring Beth back3!
  2. Vantage point: One complaint.  The bouncer on Jon Nichols side of the stage let two girls who claimed to be family, but who really looked like local girls, cut in front of me & the Mrs, and two other girls.  But hey, the wife and I only flew in from Kansas City to see the show.  And the girls in front of us, they drove through a fucking blizzard from Michigan to get there.  And when we called the bouncer out, he just averted his eyes and looked away.  That really, Really, REALLY pissed me off.  My wife wasn’t able to take pictures, and I had to bob & weave for the rest of the show to try and see through and around the girls who – literally – cut right in front of us.  And on the outside chance that they really were family (which is complete bullshit, of course), it’s still bullshit, because we – the fans – the ones who flew in from KANSAS FUCKING CITY to see the goddamn show – the ones who drove through a fucking blizzard to get there – we don’t get front-row chances that often, and it pisses me the fuck off that you – Mr Bouncer – let them cut in front of us like that.  Mother fucker.
  3. Attn: BHB: What do we, the fans, need to do to get you guys to play in the states more often?  You guys come to Kansas City and I will personally step up and guarantee you that we can sell 5000+ tickets.  Beth Hart at the Sprint Center…has a nice ring to it!  C’mon David, I will help you make that happen!
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7 Responses to “ The Beth Hart Band Rocks the Blockley ”

  1. Michelle on March 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Wow! I could nto agree with your review more. It was the best show Ive ever seen. Period. And I have seen a lot of shows. I was right up front and wow! Beth and the band totally blew the roof off the place. I would do jsut about anything to get her to play the US more regularly. Drove from CT for this show and contemplating flying to Nashville for the next. I too had the same thought re; Paradiso – How could sheeve top that? wellm she did. Her live version of Delicious Surprise was amazing…well, as you said, the entire show was awesome. Im still reeling.

  2. Melissa on March 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I actually teared up a little when I read this. I love how her fans all feel the same way about her and her music. Very few artist can really connect to everyone in the audience weather you have a shitty view or a front view. This made my third time seeing Bath Hart live. My first was Jamestown NY in June 09 when she and Jon made a rare visit with Paul Cummings, a motivational speaker. This venue was very intement and nothing like what we saw this Saturday night. I saw her at the Blockley last April, it was an amazing show with her and her band… but the show we saw on saturday was electric, and your right there are no words to describe how any of us felt for the nearly 3 hours she played ( and notably didn’t seem to want to stop playing)I can say with certainty that Paradiso has nothing on the Blockley. I also thought that Paradiso was an opportunity missed by so many of her fans.. now all I know is we were so lucky to have been in Philadelphia at the Blockley on 2-26-2011.

  3. Nikki on March 2, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Beautiful article!! I couldn’t agree more. I came from Madison WI. to see Beth and sat front row to the left of the stage. She held my hand for about 10 seconds and made me feel like Queen of the night for sure. I am poor as shit, but will make it to Nashville to see her in April!! She is amazing!!

  4. Mr. Smarty Pants on March 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks for the replies ya’ll!

    Nikki, you must have been only a few feet away from me. I’d have been behind you, a little to your left.

    Whenever Beth came over and put her hands out, I instinctively went forward to touch her…and then I stopped. I don’t know why, but it felt like a violation of her personal space to me. I know that’s kinda weird, because she did that on purpose, and expected people to be touching her, but for some reason I felt weird about it. In my mind, even though I realized that Beth Hart “the product” was OK with it, Beth Hart “the person” may not be. Maybe I was (am) over-thinking the whole thing? Maybe there really isn’t any distinction between the Beth Hart we see on stage and the Beth Hart that goes back stage, but my assumption has always been, when I see a performer, they are “in character”, so to speak, and not to assume that they’re like that *all* the time.

    It was a weird respect thing, I guess. Plus, I kept thinking, “So what? What am I gonna do; write “I touched Beth Hart”, and then sit back and watch as everyone “admires” me for it? See? It just felt weird to me.

    The girl next to me though had NO problem with it! She was a normal fan up until Beth came over, and then it was “Get the fuck out of my way, I’m coming through!” She couldn’t have been 5’1″, and that little girl pushed me aside like she was an offensive lineman!

    Oh, and BTW…see ya’ll in Nashville!

  5. John Zimmer on March 2, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Beth was on fire Saturday night at the Blockley; seeing her in a club atmosphere like the Blockley is priceless… this was my 3rd time seeing BHB live, the last time was a the Blockley last year and the very first time at the House of Blues in AC when she opened for Jeff Beck … that was the first time I saw this force of nature live; especially when she came out to do the encore with Jeff and they did several Jeff Beck Group w/ Rod Stewart BeclO’la and Truth songs. I am amazed that Beth is not a household name in the US and must go to Europe in order to be truly appreciated. Why do we need another American Idol or Lady Gaga / Brittney Spears/ Jessica Simpson ilk when we have the greatest female singer “Back to LA” ????

  6. Thomas Horan on March 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Have to agree with everyone at the show. Once you see Beth Hart live you won`t pass up a show you can possibly get to …no matter where it is!! We had a table on the upper level ,a great dinner and I had a 70-200L .Met the owner Ned, who was pumped up as we were despite dealing with 700+ fans. With all the people standind feet from Beth I still managed to snap a few although only Beth and Jon were in view most of the time. It was amazing!
    We stayed at the Sheraton and after arriving went to check out the gym.. there was Beth working out like she performs…. all out. We didn`t even speak to her as she seemed in the zone and we wanted to let her stay there. But it was freaky to walk in and see her.I posted a link to pictures on Flickr.com above from the show. also put videos on YouTube by Fishman5716. I`ll be there at the Blockley again or wherever I can be . Love you Beth Hart Band!

  7. Kenny Wolf on March 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I don’t know if it was the stars that had aligned themselves last Saturday night, or maybe it was Beth who tapped into some long ago forgotten stream of pure Rock energy, the likes of which you only read about in Rocks history books, But for Beth’s fans last Saturday nights show was a love letter from Beth and her band to us her fans. As you Mr. Pants made abundantly clear in your review, this show was unmistakably beyond intense; it was sweaty rockin’ nirvana. For two and a half hours raw energy rained down on the 700 people inside of the Blockley. Beth, Jon Nichols, Todd Wolf and Tom Lilly did more than just perform a gig, they rocked a modern day Rock revival. The power and intensity in that room multiplied with each song the band played. The music flowing out over the 700 people who were witnessing a rebirth of the spirit, a reminder to everyone there that rock done right still matters. You could have powered downtown Philly with the energy from the stage that night, maybe they should rename the band The Beth Hart Experience, in short this show was other worldly. Mr. Pants you commented in your review that “Beth had us from HELLO”, my personal moment came somewhere between her opening song, Mama and the first half of her second song, Sober. Beth played and sang like a woman possessed by the demon ROCK and she was determined to exorcize that demon. By the time she was done we were the ones possessed and it felt damn good. She OWNED us and we couldn’t have been happier! This show convinced me that the myth “ROCK IS DEAD” is just that a myth perpetrated by a music industry whose only interest is in how much money it can make churning out subpar product and filling store shelves with garbage. This show proves that the greatest rock music ever is still being written and performed, it’s just waiting for the right moment (the Blockley) and the right artist The Beth Hart Band to let it happen.

    As far as Beth Hart shows go the Gold standard is the show from The Paradiso,it’s as good as it gets. IMHO this past Saturdays show at The Blockley was for a lot of the same reasons Mr. Pants pointed out even BETTER, Which is hard to believe until I saw last Saturdays show.

    Last April my wife and I saw Beth and her band play here at the Blockley, it was a warm day and Beth came walking out of the side door, we had a chance to talk with her for about 20 minutes. Let me say this Beth is one of the sweetest, most humble people that you ever want to meet. During our conversation Beth explained to us in some detail her reasons as to why she hadn’t played in the states until then and how much she wants to play here in the U.S. As we stood and talked Beth asked us “how much are the tickets?” not because she was calculating her earnings but because she just didn’t know. We told her what the ticket price was and that she is worth a whole lot more. We smoked a few cigarettes together, she told us how much she loved our New York Accents and attitude compared to LA. We took some pictures talked a little longer and then she went back inside for the show. Last April’s show was very good, it was high energy and it was BETH but it was just a warm up, last Saturday night was THE SHOW!

    P.S. Thank You Ned for everything you did for us and to the Blockley for being the little engine that could. Please get Beth back again SOON!

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