A Soul-searching set in a holy place: Beth Hart live

The lady sings the blues – and brings the house down.

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ISLINGTON’S UNION CHAPEL has seen its fair share of preachers over the years – but none of them could match the passion of Beth Hart as she takes over the venue for a solo show.

While she’s never been one to just go through the motions, you can tell as Hart bounces up on stage, full of nervous energy, that she’s putting everything on the line for this one. She grabs the microphone and immediately starts telling the sold-out venue how nervous she is. This is the night she is either going to go big, or go home. And by heck, does she deliver the goods.

Like all good church services, she starts with a bit of hushed reverence in the shape of Saint Teresa. Given the gothic splendour of the Union Chapel, it’s a perfect way to start, and by the end of the song, she has the audience in the palm of her hand. It’s fair to say that the crowd stays there for the next two hours, utterly mesmerised.

As the evening progresses, Hart switches from wallflower troubadour to ballsy blues mama, and then back again. She raises the roof with Spirit Of God and The Ugliest House On The Block, before bringing proceedings back down to earth with ballads like Leave The Light On. Hart also proves to be a dab hand on the bass, too. This woman has a bad case of being funky – who knew?

If they gave out awards for being honest, Hart would win every year. As she switches from instrument to instrument, Hart uses the changeover to chat to the audience about issues in her life, from abusive relationships to her relationship with her mother. Towards the end of the evening, Hart breaks down in tears while talking about her struggles with alcohol. Even the most cynical gig-goer has something in their eye at that point; is a group hug in the works? No, the audience is British – of course it’s not. But the assembled crowd does manage a standing ovation or three. This might have been Hart’s first solo show in the UK, but on this showing, it won’t be her last.