On entering the venue, most fans would have presumed that the evening would be just a normal concert by the much loved Texan singer-songwriter; but, what we experienced can only be described as an ‘event’ and something Sage Gateshead can be rightly proud of.
The concert began with Beth introducing her ‘band’ aka Ruth Trimble, who performed three lovely songs at the Grand Piano; then Beth came back on the stage with four young musicians who had been part of a songwriting Masterclass the previous day.
Each got to sing something that they had written themselves; and all four flew the flag for the next generation of North Eastern musicians; but 13 year old Eve Simpson looking uncannily like Florence from the children's TV show The Magic Roundabout in her big red DM’s, stole the show with a very mature song that had a few people wiping tears away.
As the applause for the youngsters still hung in the air Beth Nielsen Chapman ended the first half with an enchanting song called The Colour of Roses.
The singer was very chatty in between songs and her anecdotes were quite funny too; especially the one about being diagnosed with a brain tumour (you had to be there) and the first song she wrote after the operation; Even As It All Goes By was exceptional.
I wouldn’t say I’ve been her biggest fan over the years so I was pleasantly surprised at how many songs I recognised and I have to say I was impressed by Beth’s voice and her piano playing; which were both crystal clear.
One song I particularly liked was truly heartfelt and written for her husband who passed away in 1994; but somehow I managed to miss the title.
Eventually Beth was joined by the choir from Emmanuel College, Gateshead for five songs from her latest; Astronomy themed album, The Mighty Sky. With hindsight five songs from this cycle was two too many; but the choir did sound wonderful on Rockin’ Little Neutron Star and There Is No Darkness. The combination of Beth Nielsen Chapman’s voice and a choir of teenagers made her most famous song, This Kiss possibly even superior to the recorded version.
Next on stage was the ‘surprise’ Guest star; X-Factor and Popstar to Opera Star and local lad made good, Joe McElderry, who nearly took the Sage roof off as they duetted on My Love Will Find You and How We Love much to everyone’s delight. It turned out Joe had previously recorded these songs on a 'hit album' and Beth had wanted to meet him to say 'thank you'.
Joe eventually ran off stage to screams from the stalls when Beth asked him to join her for Nothing I Can Do About It Now and he panicked. But the show continued with Nielsen Chapman mimicking Willie Nelson who had a hit with the song, on one verse and a near perfect Dylan on another.
After a short discussion with Ruth, Beth decided to do the encores solo at the piano making Every December Sky and Emily spine tingling; then she ended the evening with a beautiful acapella version of Ella’s Goodnight My Love.
What a night and what a performance.