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New Oxford Street, London, 6 October 2008
atmosphere of the intimate Fly club in London's New Oxford Street might
momentarily have convinced LA rock chick Beth Hart that she was actually
playing a much bigger venue. Such were the cramped conditions that the
front line mix of rock fans, invited media and gay women added a new
meaning to the term 'in your face'. And while the crowd's collective roar
might specifically have put her in mind of her Dutch success at
Amsterdam's Paradiso, a performance such as this suggest it won't be long
before she enjoys a requisite higher profile in the UK.
If anything Beth revelled in the close proximity of her admirers never wasting
an opportunity to engage the crowd in a mix of banter, invitations to yell back
at her and eventually dominate the stage much like Julie (Lewis) & The Licks.
No big surprise really because at first glance Beth is the latest female
performer with a big voice from the LA conveyor belt of artists who have lived
life on the other side of the tracks. She's had a minor hit, come out rehab,
given up smoking, started again, and thinks nothing of name checking her spouse
from the stage as her guiding light.
It might all
have got just a tad wearing were it not for the fact that she delivered a
bunch of credible, passionately delivered songs recalling the highs and
the lows of relationships, self abuse, and the like. What distinguishes
Beth is both her very physical stage presence, her soulful, breathless
rock meets blues vocal style, and the fact that her songs never flinch
from exploring the constituents of her own psyche. When she did step
outside her own back catalogue it was with a couple of judiciously chosen
covers that perfectly showcased her powerful, emotive voice.
Thus Govt Mule's 'Soulshine' (written by Warren Haynes) oozed honey while her
Janis Joplin style reading of Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' had the whole room
at fever pitch. Her own songs shifted from standard tough rockers such as'Sick'
- a caustic put down of George Bush - to 'a girlie' song whose title I missed
but which certainly hit the mark with her core female audience.
Then there was the radio friendly single 'Good As It Gets' which was predicated
on a great hook. Best of all was the outstanding rocking end piece 'One-Eyed
Chicken'. And when after moving into the home straight of her hour long set she
told the audience 'You kick ass', no one was about to argue with her.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos by Noel Buckley
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