At The Sage, Gateshead, U.K., February 15, 2020

BETH HART (Live at The Sage, Gateshead, U.K., February 15, 2020)
Photo: Mick Burgess

For a while this show was in doubt. With Beth Hart stricken by a heavy cold a few days earlier, her previous night’s show in Glasgow was cancelled. Fortunately, the rest and plenty of TLC did the trick and being the trooper that she is, she battled on and gave the Sage the show of their life.

Many bands make a grand entrance, descending from the rafters on space aged platforms surrounded by smoke and columns of flames. Beth Hart needed none of that as she casually walked from the back of the hall through the crowd singing ‘There In Your Heart’, embracing her fans as she went. Now that is how to get the crowd onside from the start.

Over the next hour and a half or so Hart delivered a masterclass in singing, slipping effortlessly from Rock to Blues to beautiful ballads to Singer Songwriter and even smouldering Jazz and in ‘Rub Me For Luck’, a ready-made Bond Theme tune if ever there was one.

Hart’s voice, so expressive in its delivery, as she sang about her family in ‘Sister Dear’ and ‘Sister Heroin’, the latter a heartfelt tribute to her lost sibling that was dedicated to her niece, Jade, who was in the audience. The sparseness of the solo piano and vocal arrangement ached with raw emotion winning a spinetingling standing ovation in the process.

There was a real feel of spontaneity as Hart threw songs into the setlist that weren’t planned for the night including a cover of ‘Chocolate Jesus’ by Tom Waits. A couple of missed cues were met with roars of laughter as her impressive three-piece band locked tightly in, their on-stage camaraderie shining through every note.

Hart has never shied away from talking about her mental health and prior to ‘War In My Mind’ she told of the shock of her pastor mentor leaving for a new job and the fear that she felt on hearing the news. She also spoke of coping with life on the road by watching documentaries about serial killers which lead into ‘Bang Bang Boom Boom’, a song inspired by the Natural Born Killers movie.

Towards the end of the show Hart brought a real intimacy to the night with a superlative acoustic section complete with stand up double bass with ‘Close To My Fire’ getting some Jazzy lounge lizard treatment and stunning renditions of ‘Baby Shot Me Down’ and ‘Spanish Lullabies’.

Hart kicked off her boots for the almost Disco beat of ‘Sugar Shack’ before a show stealing cover of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ brought the crowd to their feet for a final, rousing ovation for what for many will become an “I was there moment” in years to come as Hart cemented her reputation as one of the greatest singers of her generation.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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