Rocking the Royal Grounds: Beth Hart, Electrifying and Heartfelt at Paleis Soestdijk

At the start of July, a series of concerts begins again at one of the most beautiful concert venues of the Netherlands: Paleis Soestdijk. No less than ten concerts are spread over two weekends so there’s a concert for everyone: from Ludovico Einaudi to Eros Ramazzotti, and from Blof to Floor Jansen. Unfortunately, Floor Jansen had to cancel her performance due to health issues, but luckily, there was another performance that caught our attention: blues and rock icon Beth Hart. Her music might be a bit more mellow than what the average metal fan is used to, without heavy screams or shredding guitars. The catchy rock songs with a hint of blues will, however, undoubtedly also be appreciated by readers of Zware Metalen!

The location for this series of concerts definitely deserves an honorable mention in this review. From the moment you leave the parking lot and head towards the entrance, you enter an enchanting spectacle of forest-like, beautifully illuminated paths, while a string orchestra is playing through speakers. When a bike passes by, pulling a platform on which a man is taking a bath, I briefly feel like I’ve arrived at the Efteling theme park. Eventually you enter the field that has been transformed into a cozy food truck festival with park benches everywhere and even more lovely lighting. The festival atmosphere that emerges is completely different from the concerts we usually attend and, in my opinion, unique to the Royal Park Live performances. The field is separated from the stage by a large grandstand, which creates an intimate feeling. Although it makes the field very cozy, it’s unfortunate that you can’t see anything from the concert area if you’re at the food court. A big screen here would have been nice, for those of the audience that would like to enjoy the performances sitting on the grass.

From 4 PM onwards enthusiasts could enjoy a DJ and music from Campfire, a band that plays acoustic well-known songs that everyone can sing along to. At 6:30 PM the first opening act takes the stage: the 21-year-old Boaz Roelevink. This talented singer/guitarist started learning to play the guitar at the age of thirteen but accidentally broke his guitar which led to his decision to perform on the streets to save money for a new one. He quickly realized that performing was his true passion, and tonight, he’s here as the opening act for Beth Hart in front of 5000 enthusiastic spectators!

Unfortunately, due to a heavy rain shower that evening, I arrived a little late and could only hear the last couple of songs of his performance. Nevertheless, you don’t have to witness the entire performance to conclude that Boaz sounds absolutely fantastic and that he is a great opener for the evening. The calm songs from his debut album Keep It Simple, performed together with band member Maurice van Hoek, are definitely well-received by the audience.

Before Beth Hart takes the stage, there’s another performance waiting for us: Mell & Vintage Future. This trio formed eight years ago when music veterans Nico Brandsen and Ton Dijkman were introduced to Melanie Jonk, the talented singer of the band. In the first two hours after their meeting, they wrote their first single Call My Name, and since then, they have released three albums. As the performance starts with the songs High On Love and Brand New Day, I wonder why I hadn’t heard of them before. It could be that I’ve been living under a rock, or maybe the band hasn’t gained much popularity yet, but if you’re a fan of rhythm & blues, I highly recommend giving them a listen. Playing live they are just as fantastic, if not better than on the recordings, and Melanie’s beautiful presence and infectious energy undoubtedly contribute to this.

Not only do they perform their own songs, they also deliver a beautiful rendition of Lou Reed‘s Perfect Day, a childhood hero of organist Nico Brandsen. When Mel asks during the chorus, “Do you know this one?” the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ as the audience sings along loudly. Between songs they joke that the song Muddy Waters is about Tata Steel, and when Mel picks up the electric guitar, she laughs and says, “Thanks for letting me borrow this, dad!” After this song they speed up the pace with Do the 45 and they end their time on the stage with one of their first hits, Central Station.

Again there is no hint of rock or metal in this opening act, but the beautiful voice of Mel and the incredible musical talent of Brandsen and Dijkman are like a great guitar solo in a Metallica song; impossible not to appreciate.

Meanwhile the sun is setting behind the beautiful Paleis Soestdijk and everyone is eagerly awaiting the artist we’ve all come to see. At nine o’clock, Beth Hart finally steps onto the stage amid loud cheering. She immediately asks the audience to sing along and the crowd enthusiastically join in as the first song, Waterfalls, begins. She then introduces her band, who deserve to be praised since she mentions that she completely changed the setlist just before the show. Luckily, her band takes it in good spirits and does not seem bothered by it. There is a lot of laughter between Beth and the band members, creating an intimate atmosphere despite the vast field; as if we are all present at a (granted, fantastic) rehearsal before the actual performance begins.

The second song, Can’t Let Go, is a solid cover of Randy Weeks, with guitarist Jon Nichols playing a guitar solo. Hart encourages the audience to repeat her phrases and sing along, no matter how silly it may sound. The audience embraces this enthusiastically, and even lines like “I am a woman and I am always right” are sung along loudly by everyone, to Beth’s delight as she laughs heartily. Next, she dedicates the song I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know to her husband, adding a personal touch to the show.

After this Hart sits at the piano for a few songs. Beth sitting down at the piano does not mean we are going to hear slow ballads. On the contrary, the singer chooses some of the more powerful songs, including one of her most well-known tracks, Bad Woman Blues. The song Bang Bang Boom Boom, which is not a standard part of the setlist, is well received by the audience as well. She explains that she was inspired by the movie ‘Natural Born Killers’, which resembles the story of Bonnie and Clyde. She admits to having a dark side as well, joking that she has not murdered anyone (yet). When she saw how much fun the couple had in the film, she decided to write a song about it. The many repetitions in the song are enthusiastically sung along by the audience, and Beth seems pleased that this addition to the setlist is received so well.

Towards the end of the performance, fatigue seems to set in when she forgets her lyrics during L.A. Song. She genuinely can’t remember them and asks the audience if it’s the same as the previous verse, joking that if that’s the case, the song must be ‘terrible songwriting’ in retrospect. She also gets a bit emotional when the audience raises their lights en masse. “Don’t make me cry, guys!” she exclaims, laughing.

In the next song, Leave The Light On, she again forgets the lyrics. Since this is one of her most popular songs, the audience can sing along, but eventually, she has to grab her phone to check for the lyrics. She expresses how terrible she feels about it, knowing that the song is very popular in the Netherlands, and she wants to do it justice. She then steps away from the piano and sings the entire song a cappella, with the audience as her backing choir. This way she managed to turn a difficult situation into a very unique and special moment in the show. After the song she opens up about going through a difficult period and facing challenges with her mental health. She explains that this makes her cry a lot, and makes her feel very tired, and that this suddenly weighs heavily on her during such a performance. “Mental health is a tricky little bitch, it controls me,” she says. “If I flip out and run away now, it wins. If I decide to stay and be honest with you all, then I win.” Her vulnerability and honest words deeply affect the audience; everyone listens breathlessly, and after her beautiful words, there’s a big applause for the singer.

Then it is time for her band, who did not play along during the last few songs, to come back on stage. The bassist has exchanged his bass guitar for a double bass, and the drummer is brought forward to perform a solo on a combination of various rhythmic instruments. After the swinging Sugar Shack it seems like the performance is over but, of course, the show isn’t complete without Hart’s version of I’d Rather Go Blind and a cover of Whole Lotta Love. This last song can be found on her album A Tribute To Led Zeppelin which was released last year. After this the performance truly comes to an end and the time has come to leave the beautiful palace gardens.

Those who saw Beth Hart at Bospop last year as well will have noticed that this set consisted of considerably more powerful, energetic songs. However, at a Beth Hart show, it is not about intense screams or pyrotechnics that blow us away. No, it is the surprising repertoire, ranging from emotional ballads to swinging rock songs, and the amazing, talented musicians that captivate us. The interaction between the band members and the audience, along with Beth’s explanations, created an intimate atmosphere. All of this, moreover behind the backdrop of the stunning palace gardens, resulted in a truly remarkable evening. If you missed this concert, I highly recommend seeing this incredible artist live; Beth Hart will undoubtedly give you an unforgettable night of fantastic music, even without the magic of the palace gardens.



  1. Waterfalls
  2. Can’t Let Go
  3. I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
  4. Love Is A Lie
  5. Bang Bang Boom Boom
  6. Bad Woman Blues
  7. Baddest Blues
  8. War In My Mind
  9. Immortal
  10. L.A. Song
  11. Leave The Light On
  12. Woman Down
  13. Without Words In The Way
  14. Sugar Shack
  15. Whole Lotta Love
  16. I’d Rather Go Blind

Date and location

15 juli 2023, Paleis Soestdijk, Baarn


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