Music Critic Marianne Morgan congratulates The Beths for their delivery of a confident and charming live show after countless setbacks

Written by Marianne Morgan

Finally. After three postponements due to COVID-19 restrictions and band members contracting the virus, The Beths finally played their Birmingham show at the Castle and Falcon. Initially scheduled for April 2021, the New Zealand band took to the stage at the sold-out Moseley venue as a three piece, as lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce had unfortunately contracted COVID-19 while on the American leg of their tour. However, you would not have known they were meant to be a four piece. The rest of The Beths – lead vocalist and guitarist Elizabeth Stokes, drummer Tristan Deck and bassist Benjamin Sinclair – were more than impressive, making up superbly for Pearce’s absence.

The set opened with ‘I’m Not Getting Excited’ and ‘Great No One’, the lead singles from their second and first albums, respectively. Both peppy and springy tracks, energised the crowd for the rest of the band’s set. The Beths’ discography sounds like sunshine, but live they sound darker and grittier, with more bite, more rock than cute indie pop.

The Beths’ discography sounds like sunshine, but live they sound darker and grittier

The electricity of their riffs and hooks is so strong, played at a blistering pace with a more melt your face off energy. This was most evident during an exquisite performance of ‘Not Running’, which Stokes played at a thundering pace.

The band played what Stokes described as a “love song” ‘Jump Rope Gazers’ and the “self-destructive” ‘Uptown Girl’. Two very human tracks full of anguish, hope, self-hatred and being overly self-aware which The Beths capture so well in their music and translate wonderfully in their live performances. They also two new tracks: the catchy and softer ‘When You Know You Know’, and the faster, edgier and heavier ‘Silence Is Golden’, which was endearingly introduced as a song about “when you’re stressed.”


On stage, the band seemed totally at ease which inspired confidence when watching them in the crowd. There were no nerves or trepidation on display as between the three of them they did a four person job. Despite joking about how much they loved the “power trio format”, it begs the question of how good a band The Beths actually are when all together as they should be, as you could not tell they were meant to be performing as a four piece.

There were no nerves or trepidation on display as between the three of them they did a four person job

The band broke up their set with a bit of a bantering with the audience, something that can sometimes be annoying, sometimes forced. It can impede the good stuff, the stuff you paid to see, but with The Beths it was cute, charming and just as entertaining. The trio congratulated Birmingham on being the birthplace of heavy metal, which segued nicely as an introduction for “heavy metal song” ‘Whatever’ – a song that saw a beautiful bit of audience sing along, a moment where the connection between the band and the crowd was so strong, so unified; it was simply perfect. Stokes even admitted that she “should have prepared more jokes.”

There was also a sense of gratitude. The trio were clearly grateful they were finally playing the show and that everyone had kept their tickets throughout the multiple postponements. This humble and endearing quality of The Beths is one of their strengths and meant their music was the only focus of the night.

The set closed with a rapturous rendition of ‘Future Me Hates Me’. Stokes returned for a solo encore, delivering a delicately tender performance of ‘A Beam of Light’, in which she had the full command of the room, the crowd totally entranced by her vocals and captivated by the emotional vulnerability of the song. The band then re-joined her on stage for a final song, ‘A Little Death’.

The set closed with a rapturous rendition of ‘Future Me Hates Me’

Personally, I can’t stand sets longer than an hour. I think they begin to feel heavy and tiresome and you find yourself beginning to long for it to be over. The trio played for over an hour, something much to my delight. The show was a pleasure and I spent the entire time wishing for it to go on the entire night. It was just a privilege to be in attendance and to see a band do what they love, what they are good at, to a room full of people who absolutely love what they do. That is the least to ask for at a gig.

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