Parr Hall, Warrington, 27/10/2021
published: 23 /
Andrew Twambley at Parr Hall in Warrington watches an electrifying set from rock/blues artist Beth Hart
It must have been about two years ago that my brother showed me some images he had taken of Beth Hart in Blackpool, which he was extremely proud of. I am seldom one to compliment “our kid” but those shots were sensational, exhibiting a raw spirit of power and emotion. He described it as one of his Top 5 gigs of all time…and he is a bit of a gig soldier having attended such events as The Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 and all that involved. He insisted that I must seek out a Beth Hart performance and advised me not to listen to her back catalogue before the show, but to experience the event and listen to her recordings afterwards. I looked at him quizzically, but he retorted that I would understand after the effect of the show had gorged an unforgettable highlight in my mind.
I resolved to replicate his experience, take his advice, and seek out a photo-pass for a Beth Hart show as soon as the opportunity arose. And, eventually, it did, when Pennyblackmusic set me up for an October experience at Parr Hall in Warrington, a venue I had never previously visited.
Firstly, let me say that Warrington Parr Hall is a sumptuous venue with splendid sound and lighting. Set in the heart of the old town amongst a plethora of fine Victorian architecture. it appeared perfect for what was to come. Following an excellent set from Arielle, the crystal-voiced songstress from New Jersey, the hall waited in animated anticipation. Clearly the venue was crammed with Beth Hart disciples and devotees who plainly knew what to expect.
At dead on 8.30 pm, enter stage right, the barefoot Queen of Rock, without a fuss but exuding charisma and sex appeal. Dressed in tight black leggings and a carefully ripped top, she launched straight into ‘Tell Her You Belong To Me’. The formerly raucous horde fell silent, spellbound by her every note and taking it all in. Following the conclusion of the first number she began the first of several intimate chats with the audience, all of which appeared genuinely heartfelt and not just an artist trudging out the same lines night after night.
She then moved onto her smoky blues number ‘Baby Shot Me Down’, followed by ‘War On My Mind’. Each number was interspersed with the chat. She had been holding, what appeared to be a pencil in her hand, but she explained that it was a stick of bamboo which was part of her efforts to give up smoking along and displayed her proudly adorned nicotine patches.
The audience were involved but at one point an over-excited and over-imbibed guy shouted out a bit too loudly. Did she heckle him or try and make him look bad…? No way! To the applause of the masses, she invited him on stage to join her for the next number, before sending him back to his seat, the happiest man in the Warrington. I only hope one of his mates caught it on video as I cannot see him remembering much about his ultimate Hart experience.
After a very short interlude, we were treated to a jazz quartet paying fan favourites ‘Sugar Shake’ and ‘Can’t Let Go’. Beth then explained that her favourite artist and inspiration was Ella Fitzgerald and thus treated us to an enthralling version of ‘Lullaby of the Leaves’.
Beth’s back catalogue is vast so she can, and does, vary her set depending upon what she is feeling on the night. Although this is a review of one specific performance, I do not feel it beneficial or, in fact interesting, to go through the entire set, listing all the songs. One can just look up her ‘Best Of…’ on iTunes for that. The magnificence of the show has a large part to do with the raw emotion and honesty of the music and how she connects with the entire audience both individually and as a worshipping mass. Beth has, admittedly, had a less than smooth career having faced up to several demons, conquered some and conquering others. Nothing is hidden from us which ensures the already adoring fans are able to join her on her journey through the highs and lows of her life. This was evident from some of the exuberant crowd responding with shouts of “We’re with you, Beth” and other similar sentiments. Whether she is on piano, guitar or vocal she gives a passionate and ultimately truthful performance to her adoring family of fans, all in awe of her splendour. As my fellow photographer said to me, “She is really getting into this!”
After almost two hours of raw, yet supremely polished, performance I left Parr Hall and I realised that I had just witnessed one of the ultimate shows in my life. A somewhat unanticipated experience due to my previous lack of awareness of Beth Hart. As I slipped into my car seat, still buzzing from the show, I thought back to my bothers advice and immediately tuned my system to Beth Hart.
Photos by Andrew Twambley
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