A booming chant filled the dimly lit Fine Line Music Café as we waited for her to take the stage.
Through a thin layer of smoke her named in white, 80s style lightning-bolt writing on the banner on the stage, her only decoration.
“Betty, Betty, Betty.”
The 6’1″ platinum blond pop singer casually walked out onto stage, gave the crowd a smile and opened up with her hit “High Society,” a song touting day drinking, with only the fanciest of wines, and dancing in ballrooms.
Betty Who, whose real name is Jessica Newham, became an Internet sensation in the United States when her first hit “Somebody Loves You” went viral after it was used in a proposal video taken in a Salt Lake City Home Depot in 2013.
The 23-year-old Australian singer has a style reminiscent of ’80s pop star Cyndi Lauper or Robyn. Her album, released just over a week before her appearance in Minneapolis, features a mix of dance hits, love songs and ballads – all with a hint of synthesizer, drums and keyboard.
I must admit, I’m a very fickle concert goer.
I always claim to prefer the smaller venues, and in many cases I do. The sound is generally better, the crowd more eager to see the performer and it gives the artist a chance to showcase their raw abilities and connect with the crowd.
But, as I get older, I always find myself complaining about my feet hurting, people pushing me or, worse, people standing at 6′ or taller standing in front of my 5’2″ frame.
However even with the lanky men in front of me and the pushy woman on my right, I couldn’t have chosen a better venue.
The cozy cafe allowed Newham to connect everyone in the audience and personalize her performance.
In between each of her songs, Newham was able to pick out people in the crowd she had met at previous events. (She performed at Loring Park during Twin Cities Pride in 2014.)
She even addressed one girl saying, “You’re the one who threw the ‘Don’t Worry Be Yonce’ shirt at me. I love that shirt!”
The smaller venue also highlighted Newham’s raw talent.
While her music is heavily synthesized, her voice is, thankfully, not. Newham’s breathy alto filled the venue and blended with the instruments giving the illusion that you were listening to the album itself.
However, the best part of intimate setting was being close enough to see all of her reactions.
Being a newer artist, Newham was still visibly surprised and awed that she could fill the Fine Line.
She wore a constant, wide smile and was delighted that each time she announced a song the crowd knew each word.
Her hour and a half set included all 13 tracks from her new album, “Take Me When You Go,” plus a track from an upcoming EP.
She ended the evening with an encore that included her ballad “California Rain,” and, of course, her hit “Somebody Loves You.”
But before the night ended, Newham wouldn’t let us leave without rousing version of “Happy Birthday” sung by the Minneapolis crowd to her drummer.
Adding yet another personal touch and memory specific to Minneapolis.