Beth Nielsen Chapman - Manchester Academy 2 - 10.8.2005

Being an ardent gig goer I have prided myself on having immaculate timing; I can wander into a gig and 30 seconds later a band will appear before my eyes. However, tonight the radar was out of sink, as I stroll into the all-seated venue I suffered a flashback to the times at school when I would walk into an assembly late, I was ready to report to the headmaster’s office, as the glowing and ebullient Beth was in full flow. All my woes vanished not long after, when the charming songstress took to the keyboard for the hope springing and vocally powerful ‘Angels by My Side’, from the breathtaking ‘Deeper Still’ album.

 Beth’s songs, like her upbringing wander around playfully and also display a vast array of instrumentation with Beth herself utilising strong country fuelled guitars and enchanting keyboard melodies. The main lady was flanked by two musical bodyguards who would cushion her soothing sounds with weaving guitars, an enchanting flute and various percussion elements. The new album ‘Look’ featured prominently, as the slow and warming title track reached out to a captivated audience. The first set ended, with the deep foray into the opposites attract phenomena that is ‘Will And Liz’, sending people into the interval with some piercing thoughts about relationships;

“Two lost souls
Turning into two black holes
Offer up the last red rose
Into the fire.”
A cup of tea in hand and a warm applause marked the return to action, with proceedings taking on a fun and bubbly vein, as Beth shared some new found wisdom about making tea (apparently, you have to put the milk & sugar in after you have taken the teabag out). This continued in the compelling ‘All Comes Down To Love” that had an almost Shania Twain feel and bits of Sandy Denny to spice it up and was followed by a brisk adaptation of a Mozart hymn.

The sprightliness increased, as the prolific songwriter bounded into the fun pop free for all that is “This Kiss’, it made you want to embrace the person next to you, just a pity I was sat next to two elderly male citizens. The open hearted leading lady spoke openly about her successful fight against breast cancer and took time to remember those for whom the battle is still taking place. Beth’s generosity took on a tangible form, as she presented her guitarist with a shiny new gypsy guitar, he accepted graciously and looked a little overwhelmed. A standing ovation at then end of the mind opening two hour set was inevitable, but still spine tingling. Beth Nielsen Chapman’s campaign to warm hearts and mend souls appears to have the momentum of a runaway freight train.

David Adair

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