Beth Hart / Colin James - Colston Hall, Bristol (UK) - 17 November 2016
Colin James presented a thirty-minute stripped down set with Chris Caddell as an acoustic/electric duo. James' mastery of blues tone and slide playing was simply stunning and especially apparent on Robert Johnson number 'Travelling Riverside Blues' and on Otis Rush's 'Keep On Lovin' Me Baby' which really had the crowd hooked. The last time James had been here was with a certain Mr Robert Plant no less, and judging by the reception here, he needs to get over a bit more! Time flew by and all too quickly and the set finished to rousing applause.
As Beth Hart's band took to the stage the crowd roared in anticipation of the arrival of the lady herself. But what they weren't prepared for was for Hart dressed in a figure hugging black number, appearing singing 'I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know' at the back of the Auditorium accompanied by husband Scott and slowly moving through the sell-out audience, stopping occasionally for photos and hugs as her husky velvety vocal tones powered through this blues number. Pausing only briefly to say how she loves to start a show that way, Hart then launches a soulful delivery of 'Let's Get Together' before taking a seat at the piano for 'Coca Cola'. Hart encouraged the audience to get out of their seats and help sing the faster paced 'Can't Let Go'. The connection with the crowd became more intimate, personal and meaningful as Hart opened up about her experiences fighting Bipolar disorder and alcohol addiction throughout the evening. At times her emotion was so strong whilst talking about these subjects she was choked and tearful.
Jon Nichols then laid down the heavy rock riff of 'Fat Man' as Hart rapped her strong vocal and had the crowd jumping once more. Taking centre stage with acoustic guitar in tow, Hart performed the folky but catchy 'Ugliest House' based on her own real estate purchases! The 'Boogeyman' then came out to play with its dark but beautiful simplicity closely followed by 'St. Theresa'. Upon returning to the piano, Hart once more pours her heart out to the supportive audience and delivers a heartfelt 'Tell Em To Hold On'. Raising the tempo, the strutting big band sound of 'Love Is A Lie' sees Hart delivering one of the strongest and grittiest vocal performances of the evening alongside Nichols' creamy blues guitar soloing. Slowing the pace with its sombre organ tone comes 'Good Day To Cry' dedicated to the late Michael Stevens. Building back up the momentum, lightening the mood and drawing in some crowd singing is 'Lifts You Up' complete with a classy rap breakdown midway through.
Hart obviously was having a ball tonight as she was relaxed, confident and chatty. Her rendition of the grungy rocker 'Waterfalls' was overflowing with energy and passion in both Hart's voice and the bands enthusiastic delivery. Fliting effortlessly from the rawness of 'Waterfalls', Hart then slinks into ballad mode as she sings 'Tell Her You Belong To Me', 'Take It Easy On Me' and 'We're Still Living In The City', with the latter dedicated to her husband before leaving the stage to a standing ovation. Hart and the band return to the stage for the Hart/Bonamassa classic 'I'd Rather Go Blind'. Rounding off the evening Hart then beautifully delivers an acapella version of 'As Long As I Have A Song' leaving a very happy crowd wanting more.
In an emotion tinged evening Beth Hart has touched the hearts of her audience and performed a wonderful mix of Jazz, Rock and blues with a voice that is out of this world.