US-based chanteuse Beth Hart arrives in East Yorkshire as part of her biggest UK headline tour to date.

Beth Hart has been far from resting on her laurels in recent times. Following the release of Fire On The Floor back in 2016, the Grammy-nominated American singer-songwriter has already delivered a new album with guitar virtuoso Joe Bonamassa in the shape of Black Coffee, along with her first concert album in 13 years Live From New York – Front & Center inside of the first half of 2018.

Following a whistle-stop run of solo acoustic shows at the end of last year that included a date in nearby Leeds, Hart is back in the UK with her full band whilst performing tracks from her extensive discography. Subsequently, a packed out crowd is in attendance this evening to welcome the accomplished vocalist at her first appearance in the city of Hull.

Opening the proceedings is the Kris Barras Band, who are performing as an acoustic trio on this tour. Those familiar with the group will know that Barras is known for his distinctive brand of no holds barred, fully electrified blues rock. Therefore, tonight’s show gives the multi-talented former mixed martial arts fighter the opportunity to showcase a different style of his repertoire.

During his six-song set, Barras performs stripped back and reworked tracks from his first two albums. Set opener “Heart On Your Sleeve” from his debut album Lucky 13 certainly gets the audience’s attention. The British blues guitarist recently released his incredible sophomore album The Divine and Dirty. Several tracks from the record have already been playlisted by Planet Rock Radio including recent singles “Hail Mary” and “Propane” and of course, both of these crowd-pleasing anthems feature.

As Barras heads towards the end of his thirty-minute sweet set, he delivers a heartfelt tribute to his father “Watching Over Me” before wrapping things up with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Through My Veins”. On a side note, Kris will be taking over from US blues guitarist Lance Lopez as frontman in Supersonic Blues Machine during their European tour this summer. The future is certainly looking bright for Kris Barras.

Beth Hart is getting ready to perform a sold-out concert at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall on the 4th May. Tonight’s show in Hull is the precursor to the main event next week and as such Beth takes the opportunity to both road test and finesses the setlist for her big night in the capital.

As the house lights dim inside of the room, Beth Hart makes an impressive entrance from the rear of the hall. Illuminated by a single spotlight the powerhouse vocalist opens the show with “Love Gangster”, whilst warmly meeting and greeting fans in the aisles on her route to the stage. By the start of the second song “Lifts You Up”, the whole room is up on their feet, dancing and singing in unison.

Sat behind her piano Hart elevates the audience with her stunning take on Tom Wait’s “Chocolate Jesus”, the slow and sultry “Coca-Cola” from Fire On The Floor along with her upbeat, Gospel-tinged number “Spirit of God”. There is also room for Hart’s swinging Jazz take on Lil Green’s “Why Don’t You Do Right”. The latter of which features on the recent Hart/Bonamassa collaboration Black Coffee.

Mid-set things start to get really interesting. By her own admittance, Hart doesn’t play much of her earlier material for fear that the audience won’t like it. Those fears are very quickly allayed as Beth goes off-piste from the setlist and takes a gamble by performing an emphatic rendition of “Sick” from her 2007 album 37 Days. Whilst down on her knees, Beth even manages to segue a few bars of Lucinda William’s “Joy” in the process. There aren’t many vocalists who can go from jazz to full blown hard rock inside of one song in a setlist and pull it off. Beth, on the other hand, can change gears in a heartbeat.  

From here on in Hart takes the opportunity to frequently switch songs in and out of the setlist, whilst simultaneously keeping the rest of the band on their toes. The beauty of this is that, unlike other acts who go through the motions night in night out, no two Beth Hart shows are alike. They aren’t scripted or staged, they are raw, sincere, warm and brutally honest. This approach also results in the artist creating a real connection with the audience, making this somewhat large and majestic theatre feel small and intimate. 

Throughout the show, Beth Hart delivers a subtle blend of old, new as well as the occasional deep cut. This includes a spellbinding cover of Melody Gardot’s “Your Heart Is As Black As Night”, a passionate airing “One Eyed Chicken” along with a deeply emotive performance of “Sister Heroine” that reduces both Beth and many in attendance to tears. Hart sinks every ounce of herself into her breathtaking two-hour musical marathon.

Positioned behind her piano, the main set is brought to a close with the beautiful “Mama This One’s For You”, before Beth leaves the stage to a standing ovation from the Yorkshire faithful.

The feeling inside of the room tonight is that Beth Hart could quite happily play all night long. However, like all good things they must come to an end. A showstopping, five-song encore of “Sinner’s Prayer”, “Baddest Blues”, “Love Is A Lie”, “Picture In A Frame” and the stunning “Leave The Light On” conclude a memorable night of music in Hull. 

Beth Hart’s unrivalled talent, unique ability to read a crowd and versatile musical palette give her the building blocks to construct a show like no other. Beth Hart is arguably one of the greatest female vocalists of our time. For those lucky enough to be in attendance at the Royal Albert Hall next week, you best brace yourselves for a Hart attack. 

Beth Hart
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Kris Barras Band
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Event Date: 26-April-2018

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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