“The best live performance ever”

Beth Hart @ Paradiso

Amsterdam, Netherlands (2005)

This, my friends, could be the best live performance I’ve ever seen.

This is why you go to see live music. Intimacy. Sweat. Spontaneity. Commitment. Gut-ripping maniacal passion. And in this case, just maybe some buttcrack. In short: connection. Connection that can give you chills.

You’re not getting any of that with a mammoth wall of electronic video board production at some pixel technology palace like The Sphere. Fuck The Sphere. It’s a two billion dollar billboard. I’ve been to an IMAX Theater and even the Hayden Planetarium. Exhilarating, sure, but that’s not a concert.

A concert involves radical dynamics of fervent emotion. Human turbulence. And here, Beth Hart is volcanic…even though she performs most of the song from her knees and off the stage.

For those unfamiliar, it’s no secret that Hart, a longtime blues/rock songstress, has had her struggles with drug abuse and alcoholism. So when viewing this you might be inclined to point to those influences as dictating her activities during the clip. Not so. In a 2019 documentary, The Beth Hart Story: From Los Angeles to Amsterdam, Hart described her particular mindset during this Paradiso show: “I just had a good time, man. And I wasn’t even on drugs or anything. I had been sober for four months. But I had so much energy and thankfulness.”

Now, as for me throwing down the gauntlet by mentioning it as potentially being the greatest, we certainly don’t need to turn this into “How dare you! This isn’t the greatest, what about…(fill in the blank with countless possibilities).” And yeah, I’ve seen Prince at the ’04 Rock Hall tribute to George Harrison. Please, enough with that.¹

How about you just watch this performance and see if you’re not…affected.

And while you’re at it, consider first another quote from Hart about musicians playing live, which closes that same aforementioned documentary.

“If it was just about the music, if it really was only about the music, you would never pursue a career in it, you would just play at home.”

Had you ever thought about it just that simply? I don’t believe I have. “But I think that when you seek to go out in the world,” she continued, “there’s got to be something in you that if you can find an audience it’s almost like you find your friends, people that feel like you feel, ‘cause you’re connecting with them. And it’s a great feeling of belonging.” Connection through live music, clearly, can work both ways.

Repeatedly during this slow-burning then incendiary performance Hart howls out “Am I the one!?” with raw, soul-baring intensity.

So, are you the one, Beth Hart? Holder of a mythical title of greatest live performance ever?

Take a few minutes to watch, then see if you have the Hart to tell her no.


¹ On the other hand, sure, feel free to chime in with your (hopefully non-Prince) nominations of greatest-ever live performances…this could be fun.