Blues rocker, Beth Hart, warmed a cold Chicago night by selling out the city’s Park West venue.
Park West, which is a relatively intimate venue at the best of times, was even more so on Saturday night. The tables reached right up to the edge of the stage and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.
The crowd, who were already in good spirits, was even more so after a great set from opener Matt Anderson. He stepped alone on to the stage with his guitar and entertained the room with his brand of acoustic blues. Great vocals, guitar playing, and good rapport with the audience made sure sales of his CDs from the merch stand have been particularly strong in Chicago.
From the moment Beth and her band launched into “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,” it was clear this was going to be one of those nights where the crowd and the band were on exactly the same wavelength. Taking a seat behind her piano for heartfelt songs “Better Man” (a song penned for her husband) and “Thru The Window Of My Mind,” Beth’s voice was phenomenal. She was back on her feet for “Delicious Surprise” and the atmosphere kept building as Ray Charles’ “Sinner’s Prayer” showed off the whole band at their best with some particularly good slide guitar work. The crowd was on their feet and singing along for Delaney and Bonnie’s “Well, Well” before “Sister Heroine” slowed things down again with some passionate vocals and a ripping guitar solo.
Beth looked like she was having a great time and paused to talk to the crowd throughout the set, setting the background to songs and cracking jokes. With the band and audience having such a great time, the remainder of the set seemed to go by in a flash. The two new songs from her upcoming album, “Tell Her you Belong To Me” and “St. Teresa,” were particular highlights and a sign that there’s more great music on the horizon.
It has to be said Beth Hart puts it all out there. These songs are dragged from the depths of her soul. This is not a twenty-something singing over-produced pop ballads about their latest celebrity break-up. These songs are drawn from a life that has seen its share of genuine hardship. When you get that kind of songwriting paired with a voice that must rank as one of the very best in contemporary music and add a band of top-notch musicians, you’re going to get something special.
Make no mistake; this was as good a live show as you will ever see. It highlighted everything that is great about live music… meaningful songs, passionately performed for a delighted audience. If Beth is coming to your town, make a date to spend a night with her and her band. You can’t afford to miss this one.