Beth Hart still finds Aussies a mystery after years of touring Down Under

Beth Hart’s February tour of Australia will be her fourth in five years. 

She was most recently in town for Bluesfest 2017, but the coming engagement will see Hart and band take to a series of theatres around the country. 

Despite the regular visits, however, the LA singer doesn’t feel like an expert on local customs.

“Australia’s still a bit of a mystery to me because it’s not like I’ve gotten to thoroughly tour there year after year after year,” Hart says. “But it does remind me a bit of the terrain in California, parts of Australia, and the weather. So there’s kind of a familiarity in that sense, but in terms of really getting to know the people or culture I haven’t been there enough.”

Hart’s performed and collaborated with a number of distinguished names over the last 25 years. This includes three albums with Joe Bonamassa, singing live and in the studio with Jeff Beck and appearing on records by Slash, Deep Purple and Buddy Guy. But Hart’s mostly renowned for her live shows, which revolve around her dynamic and heartfelt vocals. 

“My real desire, honestly, is just to connect,” says Hart. “Connection happens when I see those faces of people getting emotional or just smiling or dancing or something. When that happens I feel like that’s the job that I want to do more than anything. I want us to feel like music is a place where we can come and share. 

“I’m a human being like everybody else. My greatest fear is that someone thinks I’m too weird or too crazy. I think that’s the thing I look to music for: being able to feel connected and like I’m not an alien.” 

Hart’s command of the stage has been documented on a number of live albums over the years, the latest of which features a recording from London’s Royal Albert Hall in May 2018. Though, don’t expect a recreation of this performance in Melbourne next month.

“Each night we do a different show,” Hart says. “I can never do the same show night to night. I would hang myself. The band always knows at least a hundred songs. They know all the records pretty much and for some reason I don’t ever forget. 

“Usually when we do make the set anyway I’ll change it during the show. I’ll try and feel out what’s happening. If what’s happening is I’m getting really scared up there then usually I’ll tell the band to get off stage and I’ll just play by myself and do some confessional song.”

Hart’s recording career dates back to the early 1990s. Her official debut LP, Immortal, came out in 1996 and she’s now released a total of eight solo albums as well as the three covers albums with Bonamassa. Hart’s enjoyed continued critical and sales success – 2016’s Fire on the Floor hit number one on the US Billboard Blues Album Chart – but she favours live performance over recording. 

“Records have their own artform. Some people are really great at it obviously, but for me as an artist whenever things are done live that’s where the truth is going to be found. I think that’s why I try so hard now to make everything live to tape, but even that is not really live,” she explains. 

“To me live is happening in front of an audience, in front of strangers, and being able to tell the truth in front of a stranger really is telling the truth. There’s so much healing in playing live because of that confrontation.”

Hart places a lot of emphasis on honesty and the idea of the truth setting you free. This is what she intends to project via her albums and live shows.

“Finding the balls to tell the truth, that’s really what it boils down to for me. So when I talk about the songs and where they come from, it’s important for me to have that courage.” 

Beth Hart plays The Forum on Saturday February 23. Grab your tickets via Ticketmaster.