The Beth Hart Band Rocks the Blockley
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.
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!
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.
The Gameplan (aka, the setlist)
- Good as it Gets
- Chocolate Jesus
- LA Song
- Stinky Feet
- Lifts you up
- Sister Heroine
- World without you
- Monkey Back
- Ugliest House
- Leave the Light on
- My California
- 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!