The first question I asked can a live album capture the mystery, and emotional intensity of Beth Hart singing from a stage to you? You will have to wait and see. Having seen Beth perform many times I was intrigued. The album is full of songs we loved from earlier albums and from acclaimed albums Better Than Home & Fire on The Floor. The crowd cheers Beth speaks and the concert is off and running with the opening number Let’s Get Together. That is what she is doing gathering the listener deep into her sphere of influence we are hooked by the vocals the band and the beauty of Beth’s live performance. There is no doubt Beth Hart is a consummate performer whether strutting across the stage or behind the Grand Piano the stage is her slave and we are the willing recipients of the wonderful songs and powerful stories that she shares with us with warmth, integrity and honesty.
Slowing the mood down with Baddest Blues, a piano and a song number inspired by her mother this is intimate this is hearing Beth’s distinctive vocals up close. The drums and guitar join in the melody giving a percussive force underwriting the timbre of Beth’s delivery. This is spellbinding you sit at home silent in awe at the power of the performance, not something often achieved on a live album.
There are so many favourites to enjoy live Delicious Surprise is a powerhouse of a number from her album Leave The Light, the title track we hear later. As Beth hopes with volcanic power asking the audience with a lyrical delivery “Do You feel alright?” Sitting at home you answer yes, why? Because you are in that moment. You could be sitting in the audience. Beth shares her diagnosis of being Bi-polar and a song that is old preceding diagnoses and her own words a lot of Truths from Immortal Isolation. These intense moments are what makes her shows so passionate as she unveils her inner thoughts, fears and the hurt that she has felt. This is a song delivered by a musician comfortable with the whole truth of her pathways to reaching this point of singing Front and Centre Live in New York. The acoustic guitar replicates the feeling of being isolated and out of place; of not feeling part of world everyone else seems to navigate so easily.
Her voice is unique the range and tonal quality shapes the words and unfolds the narrative. Beth Hart has been compared to Janice Joplin, Etta James the great female vocalists of the ages. No voice is the same and she sings the story of the song in her own inimitable way. Sometimes she is a wildcat, feral and out of control and then with a flip she is controlled in her delivery as on Tell Her You Belong To Me. This is an intense love song, reminiscent of the power and how it touches your soul to I Would Rather Go Blind.
The performance ebbs and flows and you are on a river of a song As Long As I Have A Song, is the perfect description. As Long as she is singing bring joy with her extraordinary performance Beth Hart will always delight when singing sad songs, happy songs or those hued in the heady mix of anger and regret. Closing this exceptional performance tonight Beth Hart Front and Center: Live from New York, she sings No Place Like Home just for me. It feels as this song is delivered to every individual listening to the album. Thank you, Beth, for the music you bring to us all, you make us cry and laugh and definitely touch our souls you are so right there is no place like home. Beth Hart is definitely at home on a stage with an audience to cast her musical spell over once again.
The songs work in the studio but live they are something else building on the energy, that Beth performance adds to every phrase and note. The performance feels live deserving the respect you pay when sitting or standing in an auditorium. (In fact, as I listen to the album, typing these words the click of the key board feels like a rude intrusion on a live performance.)
Live Albums are strange beasts. Some capture the moment with the intensity of the live performance. Whilst others are simply songs recorded in a studio reformed. Beth Hart Front and Center Live From New York is deficiently a live album that captures more than the moment it has distilled through your personal speakers the emotion and power of Beth Hart ruling the song and stage. Forever I can have my own live performance of Beth whenever I want through my speakers at home now that is intimate.
‘Live From New York – Front And Center’ will be released as a 2-disc DVD/CD set, mixed in 5.1 stereo, featuring never before seen bonus material, including an exclusive interview with Hart. The audio from the performance will also be sold separately as a digital release.
Beth Hart – Live Front and Centre: From New York – Mascot Label Group
Released 13th April 2017
Ninedoodle paws out of TEN …
- Let’s Get Together
- Baddest Blues
- Jazz Man
- Delicious Surprise
- Broken and Ugly
- St. Teresa
- Tell Her You Belong To Me
- Fat Man
- Love Gangster
- Leave The Light On
- As Long As I Have A Song
- Can’t Let Go
- For My Friends Don’t Explain
- No Place Like Home