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Beth Hart at the Circus Krone, Munich

Circus Krone is Europe’s largest permanent big top and tonight the 1,800 people sitting in the auditorium have come to hear Beth Hart.

Before Beth comes on stage we have a man who has been around for almost 30 years but I’m sad to say that, before tonight, I knew nothing about him. That man is Gary Hoey, a Massachusetts-born guitarist who once auditioned for Ozzy Osbourne.

Hoey is a guitarist of stunning capability, his style of blues rock is clean, clear and, often, complex; he’s considered to be one of the top 100 guitarists of all time. How have I missed him?

Hoey has played alongside some of the world’s best known guitarists including Steve Vai, Brian May, Joe Satriani and Joe Bonamassa to name just a few. Tonight, like Joe Bonamassa, Hoey was suited, booted and shaded – the resemblance was quite striking.

As part of his chatter he gave a shout out to the Mascot Label Group who supported this tour and then dedicated one of his songs, ‘Backs Against the Wall’ to fallen soldiers everywhere. This is a song he usually dedicates to his mom and was quite something to listen to. The dedications didn’t end there as he called to all dads, cool dads particularly, with ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’.

Hoey is a big fan of the late Johnny Winter and as a nod to that man he played ‘Highway 61’ a lesson in playing slide guitar right there on stage, an absolutely fabulous sound that filled the big top. This man is someone I’d go out of my way to see again.

Amongst all of this Hoey played several songs from his most recent album ‘Dust and Bones’ and every song was a triumph of blues rock.

What do you get if you add soul, country, gospel and rock to blues? Well, you get Beth Hart. A pocket rocket who doesn’t seem to know how to stand still while still belting out some of the best live music you’ll hear anywhere. The word ‘shit’ seems to feature highly too, either in song lyrics or just in conversation with the crowd!

Every set on the tour seemed to be different as Beth called upon the nine solo albums and three performed with Joe Bonamassa as well as a few outstanding covers thrown in for good measure and one or two extra songs just because she could.

Everything went well until the 3rd song finished, a few sound problems meant that the audience were kept in suspense during the four minute break that seemed longer. Tonight was Beth’s last night in Germany on her ‘Fire in the Floor Tour’ and she wasn’t going to leave quietly. The set was an exercise in variety as she moved seamlessly between the blues, rock, gospel, jazz, soul and country styles, a highly versatile musician who hardly seems to stop long enough to draw breath.

She engaged with the audience, when asked to sing back at her the audience obliged, when asked to get up and dance, the audience obliged. She was in total control. With a gritty voice that has been compared to Etta James and Janis Joplin, Beth Hart can rock you, she can soothe you, she can make you sing and dance along with her.

There was no song that stood out above the others, they were all outstanding, despite the little sound niggles at the start. Beth Hart is also one of those artists who likes everyone in the audience to be her friend, and on this performance you can see why; she sits on the stage apron and sings at people in the crowd, they love it. She praised the respect shown, particularly during the solo’s which tended also to be the slower, quieter tracks. During these songs you could hear a pin drop in the audience as they hung on to every note and every word uttered.

Beth Hart put everything into her performance and kept the audience enthralled with her musical ability and chatter, they loved her even when she started playing a song in the wrong key and made light of it. Her vocal style fits perfectly with all of the genres of music she delivers, you want soft, you get soft, you want raunchy, you get raunchy, Beth Hart is, if nothing else, versatile – and very flexible given some of the on-stage poses!

With Gary Hoey providing support the level of entertainment tonight was stellar, both of these need to be on your list of wannasees.

Setlists (as presented on stage modified by the artist on the go):

Gary Hoey Beth Hart
Goin’ Down

Deja Blues

Dust & Bones

Back Up Against the Wall

(Highway 61)

Who’s Your Daddy

Dust My Broom

Steamroller

I Can’t Let Go

Let’s Get Together

More Than You’ll Ever Know

Bang Bang

Chocolate Jesus

Baddest Blues

Sky Full of Clover

Fat Man

Ain’t No Way

By Her

Today Came Home

Ugliest House on the Block

(St. Teresa)

Take it Easy

We’re Still Living in the City

I’ll Take Care of You

Jazz Man

Love is a Lie

Delicious Surprise

Fire on the Floor

Words and photographs Reg Richardson

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