Natasha Bedingfield and band make Paradise rock

A review of Natasha Bedingfield at the Paradise Rock Club on June 17, 2008

, Staff Writer

During Wednesday’s show at the Paradise Natasha Bedingfield sang a bit of Madonna’s "Ray of Light" in between songs, teasing the audience. The show proved that Bedingfield is no Madonna, and I mean that in the best of ways. Instead of being a solo diva hogging all the attention, Bedingfield shared the spotlight equally with her excellent band to pretty solid results.

The band, two backup singers, guitar, bass, keys, and drums, took the stage in front of a sold out crowd and were soon joined by Bedingfield. The singer, sporting a funky little black dress, kicked into "Piece of Your Heart", with its devastating synth line. Bedingfield was just as excited as the crowd, saying, "It’s gonna be a fun night, I can tell. Look how intimate this is, it’s fantastic!" That led into the chugging soul of "Who Knows" from the new album.

Bedingfield was in a chatty mood and had lots of good things to say, especially about Boston. She told the crowd, "I had a walk around earlier today and Boston is one of my top 5 American cities. I’m drinking tea on stage tonight in honor of the tea party you had here." She also again promised that "tonight is gonna be fun. As you can see I’m all about the music, I don’t have any dance numbers."

The focus on music instead of dance was very much appreciated by the Paradise crowd, who gave the drum stomp of "These Words" a warm reception. Bedingfield asked the crowd if they like her British accent, then joked, "If you guys didn’t throw out all the tea you could sound like me." She also gave props to the Celtics and explained her slightly raspy voice, saying, "I was out all night, that’s why I have this all-night voice. Boston people know how to party." As she got more tea Bedingfield actually turned over lead vocal duties to Lauren, one of the backup singers, for "Soulmate" in a move that would normally alienate the crowd but instead seemed very endearing. It helped that Lauren did a damn good job, delivering the ballad with lots and lots of power.

Returning to the stage to an acoustic guitar vamp, Bedingfield’s scratchy voice actually paid dividends on "Single". On a night packed with songs about love, the slightly edgier, grittier song about independence was a solid change of pace. The band, especially the drummer, clearly reveled in the song’s groove, and everything built up into one thunderous ending. "Angel", with it’s slinky beat, sealed the deal that it was a full band show with a really good bridge, lots of different rhythms being played, and an impressive closing guitar solo at center stage.

"Pirate Bones", a song about success, sounded a little bit Amy Winehouse, with lyrics that were very applicable to the troubled songstress. Bedingfield carried the song on the strength of her vocal delivery, pausing by the backup singers to sing some three part harmonies. She also led the way on the rap-flavored verses of "Pocketful of Sunshine" which soon gave way to the simple, powerful release of the chorus.

The crowd started singing along just from the drum beat of set closer "Love Like This", after which Bedingfield left the stage, soon followed by her band. When she returned bearing yet another cup of tea the singer quipped, "Some people do drugs backstage, I do tea." She then introduced "Backyard" as a song about longing for the innocence of childhood. It was a swirling, hazy, dreamy song, the least straightforward of the night, and it seemed to confuse much of the crowd. The band worked some beautiful atmospherics, and it all built up to a big payoff, proving once and for all that Natasha Bedingfield is not at all just a cookie cutter pop solo artist on stage with this band.

"One last song" meant, of course, the smash hit "Unwritten". The acoustic guitar line sounded great live, but the song really kicked into high gear when the guitar player switched over to an electric with a touch of grungy distortion. By the end of the song all three singers were up front, leading the crowd in a wall of harmony on the huge chorus and proving that it was a very good choice for Bedingfield and company to play the Paradise Rock Club.

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