Five years ago, on the run up to Slash’s first solo outing, I heard a song called “Mother Maria” with someone called Beth Hart. I can’t think of many singers whose voice captured my attention with a single listen of a song; Beth Hart is one of the few. And because I was, at the time, a devout member of the Spotify church, I devoured everything they had to offer on her own material. With the announcement of a Glasgow date and a fantastic new album, I knew I had to go.
Opening for Beth Hart and her band was Irishman Miles Graham with his band. As he stood behind his acoustic guitar, it felt like a great match to open for Hart. Opting for a singer-songwriter approach, his songs thoughtful and haunting, drawing from personal experiences. His partners in crime took the form of Model Jet Pilot, a Glasgow-native who took residence on electric guitar and a young woman on cajon to provide rhythm (apologies for not finding a name!). It made for an enjoyable opening act and whilst it’s not my forté, it was great to watch as the set continued. Miles grew in confidence, telling his story between songs of how performing and his musical journey is relatively new. And as he worked through his songs, the crowd warmed to him, cheering a clapping ever louder with each passing song.
After Miles and his companions left the stage, there was a quick changeover, a man sat at the piano and the lights dimmed. “Any minute now”, I thought to myself. A figure strolled to the centre microphone and whilst I assumed it was a road crew member to double check the microphone, it was none other than Beth Hart. Tearing into “Lay Your Hands on Me” before the rest of her band joined her, her soulful, bluesy voice commanded the ABC into complete silence whilst the hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention which lasted for the duration of her performance. Just typing this is making them stand on end again.
Hammering through as much material time allowed for, instead of a two hour show, the venue only allowed ninety minutes. Ignoring the concept of an encore to fit more songs in, she rattled through more songs, covering her entire career. Despite touring on the back of the stellar Better Than Home, it was refreshing for only a handful of songs to be performed rather than focusing heavily on it and further into the set than expected.
Between songs, she held herself with a cool air of charisma, effortlessly regaling the crowd with anecdotes of her life. Self-deprecatingly funny she was made all the more human by acknowledging the very few mistakes she made in songs, garnering laughs from a town which many regard hard to win over. And when she wasn’t doing either of that or easily belting out her vocals, she had a grin plastered on her face to rival the Cheshire Cat and couldn’t have been more gracious if she tried.
Whether playing upbeat rockabilly numbers like “Bang Bang Boom Boom” or the soulful “St Teresa”, she was able to capture the attention of everyone in the room. Her audience speaks volumes of her appeal; people as young as me, pensioners, men in suits, a few beardy-rocker types and more. Much of her material comes from her own life and experiences with songs covering her old house, her husband, her own frame of mind and feelings. They’re songs which come from the heart and embellish the power present in the songs. On the stage, she’s clearly not afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, endearing fans, covering universal topics and making you feel she’s singing only to you.
I had been slightly nervous to see Beth Hart for the fear that she wouldn’t live up to my own hype. Thankfully from the start right through to the very end, my fears were proven unfounded and with a vow to return soon, she won’t be gracing the ABC but instead our beloved Barrowlands.