Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa - Hampton Court 24-6-13

In my experience gig announcements come in four flavours :

* Fish & Strawberry (no chance)
* Vanilla (ok if nothing else available)
* Mint Choc Chip (definitely)
* White Chocolate with hazlenuts and chocolate sauce (no brainer)

These people in this venue with this band is the latter, with a side order of Jack Daniels Honey, Hobnobs and sex chucked in for good measure!

Having been a fan of both Bonamassa and Hart from way back, their collaboration albums were the perfect fit for each other .. Beth's powerful yet vulnerable voice matched with Joey Bone's soulful guitar playing, classic blues tunes and a backing band tighter than a Mosquito's Tweeter.

But could they cut it live? Well we'll come to that in a minute.. (building the tension like a pro..)

First: The Venue.

Wow!  We're used to queuing in line to get into some urine smelling sweaty room to listen to rock music (and that's not just the Kitchen at Rockgig Towers)  - so this was a different class.  From the VIP entrance at the car park (which was actually the same car park as us Muggles used,  which I think dawned on the angry looking posh woman who parked next to us), through to the picnic area on the lawns (with a Jamie Oliver picnic if requested) full of the great and good stuffing ourselves on everything ranging from pork pies to complete hams, to the stage area in a walled courtyard being overlooked by Henry VIII's bedroom.  The stewards were not only the best dressed you will ever see, but the nicest group of people you will ever meet.

Second: The Audience

A real mixture of people, the vast majority of whom were at the, shall we say, "experienced" end of the scale. Which is no bad thing as we are right up there ourselves. They got involved, they danced - great atmosphere.. BUT - the problem with a group of older people like us, and the fact that most had been drinking for around 4 hours before the gig was the constant stream of people getting up and going to the loo! .. it was non-stop through out the entire gig and was getting to be a real pain in the arse.

Now - Could they cut it live ?

Dumbest question ever - of course they could.

Bang on 9pm the huge courtyard gates were slammed shut and people start appearing on the stage. Joe takes a back seat and becomes the leader of the band whilst Beth does her stuff up front.  Note perfect, pitch perfect, soul and blues dripping from her voice while the Tightest Band In The World (© Rockgig) back her up with consummate ease. At times Beth seemed to forget she was fronting the band and stopped to watch and applaud them rip through a solo. I am kind of intrigued to know whether Beth sat on the front of the stage to get closer to the audience or to give herself a rest from balancing on the killer heels she was wearing.

We had a mixture of tracks from the two albums, one from Beth's latest and one from the next Bonamassa album (allegedly).

Great to see "I'd Rather Go Blind" added to the setlist as it was missing from the previous night.

"Strange Fruit" is a dark, brooding song and their interpretation of it on the Seesaw album is excellent, but in a live setting it just takes on a life of it's own - you could hear a pin drop.

"For my Friend" rocks out, whilst "See Saw" gets everyone up and dancing. The phrase "All Killers - No Fillers" is the perfect description of this gig. It was the quickest 90 minutes I have ever witnessed.

And as the chords to their reworking of "Nutbush…." faded away ..they were gone. The huge gates to the palace opened and we were released back into the wild, through the well lit topiary, giving you the impression that if there was ever a house band in Alice in Wonderland then this would be it. A wonderful, surreal, brilliant gig.
Possibly the best.  Ever.

(more images to be added soon)

(all images courtesy of, and copyright to Christie Goodwin )

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