“I love that the word bitch has become such a compliment,” chortled singer Betty Who as she delighted a packed Cambridge Room last Tuesday at the House of Blues in Cleveland. Who wowed the crowd from “Heartbreak Dream” straight through to her encore of “Somebody Loves You.” From the tips of her white high top Chuck Taylors to her platinum blonde bob, Who embodied youthful exuberance and got the party really going.

The night started off with Cleveland favorites The Lighthouse and The Whaler, featuring a guest return appearance of former violinist Lisa Kim.  It was good to see Kim up there with the boys; there’s something about the way she plays that captures the essence of the band and takes it to the next level. TLATW’s set featured a variation on “Venice,” no doubt from their newly released remix CD and a mid-set blown amp, which caused frontman Michael LoPresti to think on his feet and play a near-acoustic version of “Pioneers.” The Whalers did what they do best: delivered a strong set which stirred something deep within the audience, causing them to dance.

Who’s set brought an entirely different feel to the stage as lights were set and the band emerged, dressed in all white. “Heartbreak Dream” brought Who to the stage and the room really came alive. The boys lining the stage had obviously practiced their dance moves for days and had all the words memorized. Who charmingly interacted with her audience, holding their hands as she sang to them. If her music hadn’t already captured their hearts, surely this did.

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Photo by George Michaels.

Coupled with that captivating crowd engagement,the Aussie’s candid discussions of her songs’ geneses as well as some seriously witty banter solidified the bond with her fans. She prefaced “Giving Me Away” with a heart-wrenching story about the man behind it. “Here’s your ode to what you’ve done to me,” she said. “This is the last part of that.” Following that was “All of You,” which was revealed as an attempt to “capture that feeling where you love someone so much but also hate them with every fiber of your being.” The song was explosive and the energy that Who exuded never let up.

In fact, her entire set sizzled. The towering blonde never lost momentum, slowing only when required to sync up with that of her bassist and keyboardist. She’s a regular tour de force and will be a welcome opener on tour with Katy Perry this fall. Hell, we think she’s going to give the pop queen a run for her money.

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