This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing the singer Betty Who perform at Royale in Boston. Inconspicuously settled near the Boston Common, Royale is a relatively small venue that makes for an intimate concert experience. A place I had visited a few times before, I looked forward to returning for the first time in several months. Also familiar to me was the opener Vérité, who I had seen open for Marian Hill the last time I went. Vérité did not disappoint yet again, but it was Betty Who who made more of an impression on me.
It was an ideal spring day in Boston and I arrived early to take advantage of it. I always enjoy walking around Boston, this time spending most of my time strolling around the Boston Common. It was filled to the brim with others soaking in the beautiful day as well. Some interesting sights were had, including a parade of costume wearing runners. The dinosaur really stole the show amongst onlookers. The energy in Boston was palpable. Several Boston Marathon runners and spectators were walking around, the Bruins had a playoff game in Ottawa, and the Red Sox were hosting a game, making for a packed T ride into the city.
Once I made my way to Royale, the concert began with Vérité taking the stage by storm, opening with her hard hitting new single “When You’re Gone.” I am a big fan of artists who really make you feel strong emotions with their lyrics and the way they deliver them. Vérité is definitely one who does just that. A twenty-something (I think) singer from New York, Vérité has powerful vocals and songs that are usually somewhat angst filled/ angry, yet beautiful all in the same. She is able to sing with such emotion that you are really taken into the song, and almost makes you feel the same way. Vérité referenced how New York crowds at concerts seem bitter compared to the Boston crowds, and admitted “I’m somewhat bitter too, but it’s OK” in a nonchalant way. With her debut album coming out in June, she is certainly an artist to watch.
The anticipation was soon in the air for the singer everyone came to see, Betty Who. A 25 year old Australian singer whose real name is Jessica Newham, she went to Berklee College of Music in Boston and started out as an acoustic songwriter before evolving her music into the more colorful pop sound she is now known for. Right from the start, the crowd really took to her and was loud. One of the things that impressed me most about her was her stage presence. I hadn’t really seen an artist who dances as much as her, especially not with backup dancers and choreography for most of the songs. This made for a fun and playful environment, with Ms. Who really acknowledging her band and dancers and having fun with all of them. Her talents went beyond her singing and dancing, however.
Who knew how to work a crowd, saying in a playful manner early on in the show, “The only rule is that you have to sing the words if you know them. If I see you mumbling the words and I know you know them, we will lock eyes and I will tell you to really sing them.” The playful tone she set at the beginning continued throughout, with her calling out several members of the audience at different points. At one point, she acknowledged a girl who was singing all the lyrics in the balcony, saying she made her heart explode. Other times, she cracked jokes or pointed out people wearing interesting apparel, from asking a boy wearing a Def Leppard shirt if he knew any songs by them (he didn’t) to getting excited when she saw a fan donning a “Who Crew” hat.
In one of the more intimate points of the show, she went back to her roots and played a couple acoustic songs. A powerful moment took place when she asked the crowd to sing back the chorus of one of her more popular songs “Wanna Be.” A tale about wanting to be with a guy who is already taken, Who croons “I know she’s sweet, but she isn’t me/ Where she lies in your eyes/ That’s where I wanna be.” Another great moment of the show took place during her empowering song “Beautiful” where she posed a question to the crowd by singing “Do you feel beautiful?” to which the crowd yelled “Hell yeah!” Of course, the show also included her hit songs, including “Mama Say”, “Some Kind of Wonderful”, and “Human Touch” from her album The Valley which came out at the end of March.
Betty Who certainly has a bright future ahead of her. Referencing Beyoncé as someone she looks up to, she definitely possesses some of her charisma on stage and dancing skills, although she most likely won’t reach quite that level of fame, but who really can?Nonetheless, her tour promoting The Valley should be a great boost to her. I am certain she will continue to produce more uplifting songs that speak to her fans.
Going to a concert is such an uplifting experience, and one that everyone should experience at one time or another. I feel fortunate to have seen so many great shows over the last few years. This one was probably more of a treat for me since I hadn’t been to one since December. Perhaps this blog will take on more of a musical direction, as it is something I have a great passion for. Maybe introducing up and coming artists I have my eye on, or reviewing concerts I go to like this one, who knows. The beauty of the blog that I love is I can take it in any direction. So far, it has been an enjoyable experience I look forward to continuing.