Beth Hart Reading Hexagon 30-4-18

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Despite living a fairly short drive away, this was my first visit to Reading’s Hexagon with it’s 1970’s concept of futuristic concrete angles ... my only recollection of it from my youth is that this is where the snooker championship used to be held isn’t it?  Having said that I really liked the place.. it has a nice art centre vibe and superb acoustics.

First up was three quarters of the Kris Barras band... strangely no one mentions where the 4th guy is... possibly still navigating his way around the many Hexagon bars  and coffee outlets... anyway they are performing acoustically on this tour so maybe he doesn’t own an acoustic guitar. Their latest album "The Divine and Dirty" is an absolute belter, and I wasn’t sure if tracks like Propane and Hail Mary would work when stripped down, but they pulled it off exquisitely.  A wonderful version of Watching Over Me won them plenty of new fans from Beth’s audience..  I must check the full electric set out sometime...possibly my new favourite band.

With her band on stage and in full flow you start to wonder where Beth is and suddenly you hear THAT voice all smooth, sexy and powerful (like a hammer made of silk, covered in chocolate and  wrapped in velvet) and realise that she is walking her way through the audience to the stage.

I would love and hate to be in Beth’s band - this is the 6th time I’ve seen Beth Hart (twice in as many weeks) and I’ve never seen her play the same set twice.  I would imagine that, as a band member, you really have to be on your A game as you get the feeling that she could decide to play anything at anytime. Having said that Jon Nichols (guitar), Bob Marinelli (bass) & Bill Ransom (drums) were perfection, following Beth's signals and getting shouts of encouragement from her when they started to (hypothetically) tear the place down. Bill Ransom clearly never got the email that all band members have to have fantastical face foliage for this tour.

Tonight the focus was on her solo albums. She is such a wonderful songwriter, ripping emotions from her incredible back story and wearing her heart on her sleeve that you really can’t imagine any one else singing a Beth Hart song - they are all so personal.

As usual I was too into the gig to make any notes but luckily fellow Rockgigger ME was alongside me, eating polo's and wondering how on earth Beth was staying in her gravity defying dress. Armed with his trusty notepad and according to him we witnessed :
  • Love Gangster
  • Lifts You Up
  • Close To My Fire
  • Bang Bang Boom Boom
  • Good As It Gets
  • Spirit Of God
  • Falling In Love With You Every Day
  • Set Me Free
  • Saved
  • Why Don’t You Do Right
  • Waterfalls
  • Is That Too Much To Ask
  • Ugliest House
  • Boogieman
  • Spiders In My Bed
  • A Change is Gonna Come 
  • St Teresa
  • Mama This One's For You
  • Sinners Prayer
  • Love Is A Lie
  • Picture In A Frame
A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke cover) wasn’t even on the set list, but someone shouted it out and as soon as she had sussed the chords out she played a wonderfully spontaneous version solo at the piano.

Beth is always emotional on stage, but her mum was in the audience tonight all the way from the States and Beth broke down before playing a very personal version of Mama This One's For You.

A wonderful, spontaneous, beautiful show.

... oh and hang on, the snooker was at the Crucible wasn’t it?


Photos used with thanks and credited to Will Carter/Two Finger Media

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