Home Gigs Gig Review : Beth Hart at the Armadillo, Glasgow

Gig Review : Beth Hart at the Armadillo, Glasgow

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Review & Photography by Ritchie Birnie for MPM

Glasgow had to wait a lot longer than the rest of the UK to play as she was ill the last time she was meant to perform here but tonight we had a world first that more than made up for it.

The show was moved from the Concert Hall the day prior due to refurbishments and although both halls are similar I have to say the sound was spectacular tonight. I have never heard it better and Beth and the band were on a different level to any show I had seen them at prior to tonight but before I start getting too excited lets give support Connor Selby some love.

As with lots of shows these days bands are booking acoustic support sets for a quick turnaround so here we have the two youngsters having a bash and I will be honest in this beautiful arena they sounded amazing. Just those two guitars sounded massive and they went down well even though there was a real sense of hurry up from the audience which had nothing to do with the guys it was just us oldies already know this is going to be a long night and we have waited far too long so when the boys finished they got their applause, we ran to the toilets, got our drinks and prepared to have our minds blown by what would be a jaw dropping performance by Beth Hart.

I have to be honest, I have struggled with this review purely based on how good the show was and trying in some feeble way to put into words an experience that felt totally spiritual.

This is my 43rd year of gig going and my mainstay has been Rock, Metal and Blues and tonight this show surpassed every single blues show I have seen and I have seen many. It has also been catapulted into my top three live shows of all time and this will be one I will be talking about for a very long time.

OK, now that my crappy disclaimer is out the way lets get onto the show. The intro tape tonight is from the Movie Step Brothers in Boats and hoes and I can assure you that was the only unclassy moment of the evening(mmm, except maybe Beth’s filthy tongue).

Joking aside as that music blasted out the speakers those in the know were expecting Beth to appear at the back of the hall and make her way down which she duly did, flanked by her hubby Scott and all I will say is there were some very lucky men in here tonight, and at our age with those dicky tickers this could have been dangerous.

When Beth finally stopped saying hello she took to the stairs at the centre of the stage and she eased into “Tell Her You Belong to Me” and those slithering vocals already have everyone in awe and tonight we are treated to the elegant Beth in a stunning top and leather jeans as opposed to last nights Saxon t shirt in Ireland.

The song is very quiet in parts but there in no talking in the crowd, we are totally focused and as we move into the sleazy “Waterfalls” the band kick off big time and what a sight it is. I feel so sorry for Jon Nicholls, Tom Lilly and Bill Ransom as they must be the least watched band in the history of gigs as everyone is fixated on the dervish that is Beth as she oozes her soul out of every pore and her heart pours out of her mouth vocally and lyrically.

We go to Beth’s latest album and a tribute to Led Zeppelin and I have to admit now (although I will no doubt get stick for it) that I was never a Zep fan. I did of course by the album but it sat in my to play pile for a while before I got to it but once I did I spent a whole night flipping over beautiful Orange vinyl contunously. Beth is stunning on this album and her renditions are fresh and perfect as was “When the Levee Breaks”.

After this song Beth sees some empty seats and takes to the stairs and the floor again and heads up the back to get four lucky people to the front row before settling into “Your Heart is as Black as Night” and that voice tied with the lyrics just rips your heart out.

There is some time for sass after with “Bad Woman Blues” from the amazing War on my Mind album and this is as if it is a complete response to the pain of the previous album and as if pain is on the menu we get to “love is a Lie” which Beth wrote for her mother and tonight this song totally hit home, Why does music do this? The time machine that takes you back to moments in your life that end up being assigned to that song. I may forget what I went into the kitchen for but I have over 4o years of musical memories that are there every time I dig out that old vinyl, spin a CD, plug in an Ipod or play youtube. Thanks Beth, you have added this amazing song to a memory bank for life.

Now the title track to War in my Mind” and a song that I treasure. The pain, the doubt that every one of us have felt and the reason why this song is so powerful .

After “Rub me for Luck” we get to another beautiful moment as she tells us how “My California” is based on her hubby and after she tells us a story from the beginning of the evening which proves the patience of the man, someone I had a chance to chat to a few years ago as Beth was on stage at Ramblin Man and he is certainly a very special man and as Beth sat on her own at the piano and once again poured her love out for all us to see and what an amazing moment as Scotty came out to cuddle her and whisper in her ear.

Hopefully by now you will see how all these special parts mixed with an impeccable performance meant the world to me and everyone here.

A very rare glimpse of a song that takes everyone back in “LA Song(Out of This Town)”. Beth says she does not play it often as it was popular and live it is very different to that polished pop/punk video from 1999.

By now the whole band have gathered in a little huddle in front of the drum riser to take it down a notch, Tom Lilly has the double bass out and Bill Ransom has every percussion instrument imaginable which will be utilsed shortly to the full but for now it is for a stunning version of “Without the Words in the Way”

As the song finishes Beth is going for a wonder and in the quiet someone shouts “Leave the Light on” and the songstress lets us know she had dropped it from the set tonight as she was not feeling it but as it had been shouted out a few times she would try something different and walked down those stairs to the floor and proceeded to perform the song acapella and that was it for me as tears spilled from my eyes. This was one of the most special performances I have ever witnessed, as that voice soared to the serrated ceiling it took everyones hearts with it as we are filled with pure joy.

Emotionally I thought I was wrung out but Beth and this incredible band were not done with me yet as Beth takes the acoustic guitar in the band huddle and they totally redo “House of Sin” and it was sublime and again my heartstrings were torn apart as she let out a haunting scream from the depths of all the pain she has suffered.

It is back to Zep again with “No Quarter/ Babe I’m Gonna Leave you” and for me this has never sounded better and we are brought to the end of an incredible night with “I’d Rather Go Blind”. Beth had just went for another walkabout and so she settled down to give this song what it deserves and she did. The only thing that could have improved it was having Joe Bonamassa there in person and I hope that one day I see those two on the same stage. That would be another bucket list ticked off.

Reading this back I have failed miserably in trying to convey what an experience this was but at the end of the day it is only words and if a picture paints a thousand words this live show painted millions and I will take it to the grave with me.

There is only one Beth Hart, there will only ever be one Beth Hart. Like the blues she sings the genre is about the baggage that you carry, that you accept and that your defeat and all those lows spliced together went into making the ultimate high that was tonight’s show and so all I can say is thank you Beth from the bottom of my heart and thank you Scotty for being there when no one else was, you knew the difference she would make to this world.

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