Live Music + Gig Reviews

Beth Orton @ Union Chapel, London

11 September 2003

Beth Orton

Beth Orton

Norfolk’s very own acoustic songstress Beth Orton has reached that point in her career when it is time for refection. Yes, a greatest hits album and what better way to promote it than by reminding people of some of your best bits?

Sitting on a stool, hair disguising her face as she sat hunched over her guitar was a taste of things to come. Opening her own set with the rarely heard Pieces Of Sky, she made the error of singing without the aid of a guitar. The result seemed rushed, although did demonstrate a voice which was sounding stronger than at any point before.

A few oldies won the crowd back though, and the upward spiral continued with the highlight track from the recent Daybreaker album, Paris Train. The live version was stripped of the orchestral accompaniment on the studio version, but it was no less impressive for that.

This was by no means a flawless display – Orton forgot the words to Paris Train and then played the wrong tune to new song Weather Report – but one of her quirky qualities is that she is one of the few artists who can get away with looking a bit shambolic. Another example of this was when Orton revealed her untapped talents on the piano – referring to instructions on Post-It notes on how to play the instrument!

Aside from her unique vocal talents Orton wowed a somewhat subdued audience with some very intricate guitar work. Amid the sound of beer cans being opened echoing around the church, there were musical highlights a-plenty. Carmella, Stolen Car, the haunting Blood Red River and the powerful Pass In Time all doing much to impress.

Sprinting off stage, she returned to take requests for the two encores, which included Central Reservation and a beautiful version of I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine, before ending the evening by stamping her own uniqueness on the Louis Armstrong standard, Wonderful World.

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