Review: Betty Who Was 'Some Kind of Wonderful' at Chicago Show

Betty Who

Betty Who

There ain’t no party like a Betty Who party. On April 20, Chicago synth-pop fans strapped on their dancing shoes for a night full of joy, fun, art and movement as the Australia-born singer-songwriter known as Betty Who (Jessica Anne Newham) stopped by Concord Music Hall for a sold-out show at what she described as the biggest venue on her current tour.

Betty Who regularly declared her love for Chicago throughout the night, calling it the best city to perform in primarily because of fans’ unbeatable energy. She encouraged everyone to sing along at every opportunity, regardless of whether or not they knew the words, and to simply get lost in the music. “If you want to dance, now would be a great time,” she said before playing her light and airy “The Valley” single “Human Touch.”

Betty Who

Throughout the night, Betty Who was joined by a pair of back-up dancers and a three-piece band, all of whom seemed to be having as amazing a time as the cheering superfans in the front row. “Make You Memories” featured an infectious shuffle dance break that generated waves of motion across the crowd, while “Pretend You’re Missing Me” gave the singer a chance to get up close and personal with the audience as she kneeled at the edge of the stage to sing of hopeful heartbreak. Like all of Betty Who’s music, the song quickly evolved into a modern disco track – upbeat chorus and all – which had the entire venue swaying to the joyful groove. “Blue Heaven Midnight Crush” was another beautiful moment during which pleasure and pain co-existed in perfect harmony.

Betty Who“Hey, Chicago! Remember what I said about singing,” Betty Who said later in the concert leading into “Heartbreak Dream” and an ensuing eruption of crowd clapping. As the night went on, she continued to check in with fans young and old from veteran concert-goers to bona fide newcomers. A six-year-old named Jace – who the singer chatted with at a meet and greet pre-show – got a special shoutout, as did fans in the back of the venue who brought a light-up “Who Crew” sign to the performance. “Beautiful” and “Some Kinda Wonderful” led to even more stand-out moments during the all-ages show.

In our current musical landscape, pop music often gets written off as less relevant than hip-hop, alternative, indie and basically every other genre – as if Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna and many more didn’t already push the boundaries of art and social commentary on top of a backdrop of pleasing sounds and irresistible melodies. Betty Who is continuing in this tradition and reminding music lovers everywhere that sometimes it is best to dance the pain away.

Verite

Earlier in the night, Vérité also expressed her love of Chicago during a short but satisfying set that included live renditions of songs like “Strange Enough,” “Underdressed” and The 1975’s “Somebody Else.”

Betty Who has plans to continue touring the world throughout the spring and summer. Head over to BettyWhoMusic.com for more information about where you can catch her stellar show.

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Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and Riot Fest. She loves chatting with hilarious comedians and has interviewed the likes of Maria Bamford, Paula Poundstone and Tracy Morgan, to name a few. She has photographed tons of great bands/musicians – from every genre – including Rob Zombie, Florence and the Machine, Alabama Shakes, Neil Young, Shania Twain, Pitbull, Pierce the Veil, Kendrick Lamar, Patti Smith and many, many more.

When not writing or shooting shows, Laurie loves to spend her free time training for marathons and exploring the city of Chicago. She is a longtime vegetarian and animal advocate who likes to cook healthy, delicious meals that everyone can enjoy. For more information or to contact Laurie, head over to www.lauriefanelli.com.