|02||State Of Grace|
|03||Last Leaves Of Autumn|
|04||She Cries Your Name|
|06||Something More Beautiful|
|09||See Through Blue|
|10||Safe In Your Arms|
|13||Call Me The Breeze|
|17||Feel To Believe|
|18||It's Not The Spotlight|
By Doron Davidson-Vidavski, 7th December 2012 www.thelineofbestfit.com
Although some of the album tracks aired tonight may not be as immediate as ‘Magpie’, it is notable that the vast majority of Orton’s new material operates on a minimum level of ‘rather good’. There are no so-called stinkers here. Orton’s writing is rich in melody and, on songs such as ‘State of Grace’ and ‘Something More Beautiful’, you get swept away with the sentiment she so easily conveys with her lyrics.
As impressive aurally and visually as it is, the Union Chapel can still be a daunting stage even for a seasoned performer. For an artist returning to tour her first album in six years without the comfort blanket of a backing band, any nerves were perhaps understandable. Beth Orton, though, had no reason to be fearful with husband Sam Amidon by her side and a largely middle-aged, home crowd of loyal fans. (Clearly most weren’t teenagers when Orton released her Trailer Park debut 16 years back.) A combination of this ultra-respectful crowd, content to offer their applause and at times call out requests between songs, and a cold night within and outside the Chapel soon added to the austere feel this building can sometimes lend to events.
Beth Orton, Union Chapel, N1 - Evening Standard review - David Smyth
Beth Orton returns to the stage after a six-year gap with a magical and charming folk set
Now 41, with two children and a husband, Sam Amidon, who was also her duetting partner and support act here, she found she had been missed by a crowd that shouted so many requests that individual titles were inaudible in the clamour.
Though at the start of her career she and her acoustic guitar were lauded by the dance crowd — she collaborated with William Orbit and The Chemical Brothers — these days she’s a full-on folkie, opting to perform a set featuring most of the songs from her comeback album, Sugaring Season, alone. The occasional problem with the sound was lightened by her chirpy between-song persona. “I don’t mean to be a diva,” she joked.
The songs, though, were things of beauty. Poison Tree, a reworking of a William Blake poem that she called “a collaboration between me and the dead”, had a brooding magic with fiddle and harmonies from Amidon. She plucked her guitar hypnotically on State of Grace and approached the folk-soul sound of her late collaborator Terry Callier on Candles.
See Through Blue was odder, a strident waltz with plonking piano from Nico Muhly. Call Me The Breeze was a breath of fresh air, a catchy country shuffle that was a relative picking up of the pace.
She was charming company throughout, not a diva in the slightest. This low-key comeback deserved its upbeat welcome
Beth Orton, Union Chapel, London
Ben Walsh Thursday 06 December 2012 The Independent
The playful and pastoral "Call Me the Breeze" is a highlight tonight among a sea of apologies and minor technical hitches. "Mind if I start again?" she asks us halfway through her first number, "Magpie", before apologising for being "a diva" and duly starting again. There's a lot of this from the self-deprecating singer, who admits "I don't know why I'm so nervous tonight". She needn't be, as she's among ardent "friends", and her tranquil new album (her first in six years), Sugaring Season, is arguably her strongest yet.
At her finest, the former “comedown queen” recalls, vocally and lyrically, the likes of Julianne Regan, Carly Simon, Edie Brickell and Sandy Denny. However, it would have been a slight relief if, just occasionally, the endearing singer had truly let rip (with some gospel, rap, reggae, anything), if only to warm our chilly toes, but there are still moments of transcendental loveliness here.
The pick of her delicate material is the soulful “Something More Beautiful”, on which the willowy 41-year-old sings “When you feel too much to ever let it show/ You turn it up, turn it down, turn it round, and leave/ When you just don’t concede/ With what you believe.” This sensual song would have suited Otis Reading’s voice beautifully.
It's noticeable how much Orton's guitar work has improved under the tutelage of Pentangle founder Bert Jansch, although she unnecessarily informs us of "a guitar malfunction" after the wonderful, Weimar Republic -era sounding "Sea Through Blue". Stop saying sorry.
The new material stands up extremely well against tracks from her first two critically lauded (both were nominated for a Mercury Prize) folktronica albums, Trailer Park and Central Reservation. However, the mournful lament “She Cries Your Name”, her breakthrough song (which memorably includes the word "euphorically"), is still her most compelling track. "Oldies" such as "Central Reservation" and "Shopping Trolley" are also treats.
For the encore Orton exclaims "Anything you want played, just tell me". She's met with sporadic, barked demands, which she awkwardly tries to please.
Orton, with fewer apologies and with a full band, is capable of a barnstorming performance, especially off the back of her exquisite new album. But tonight wasn't quite the night.
Live Review: Beth Orton at Londons Union Chapel (12/5)
BY TONY HARDYON DECEMBER 07, 2012, 8:00AM
Beth Orton @ Union Chapel 051212 0016 e1354858739734 Live Review: Beth Orton at Londons Union Chapel (12/5)As impressive aurally and visually as it is, the Union Chapel can still be a daunting stage even for a seasoned performer. For an artist returning to tour her first album in six years without the comfort blanket of a backing band, any nerves were perhaps understandable. Beth Orton, though, had no reason to be fearful with husband Sam Amidon by her side and a largely middle-aged, home crowd of loyal fans. (Clearly most weren’t teenagers when Orton released her Trailer Park debut 16 years back.) A combination of this ultra-respectful crowd, content to offer their applause and at times call out requests between songs, and a cold night within and outside the Chapel soon added to the austere feel this building can sometimes lend to events.
After a capable warm-up set by Amidon on guitar, banjo, and vocals, with some accompaniment by piano and drums, one expected Beth Orton to take the stage with more than just her guitar. Yet no band beckoned. The singer looked dressed more for the country than city in her long casual jacket, blue jeans, and two-tone brogues. Her fine features and cute, upturned nose peered from a curtain of hair, recalling Marianne Faithful in her prime. Opening with “Magpie”, the first cut from her fine new album, Sugaring Season, Orton had to start the song again midway through after an unwanted drone turned to feedback. Her confident guitar picking and bold, leaping vibrato should have been enough to deflect the nerves but the artist’s brittle stage confidence seemed affected.
To her credit, as the set progressed, Orton fought off the nerves with her intensely heartfelt vocals and ever assured guitar, scarcely needing to be as apologetic about the odd sound blip as she was. Amidon joined in from time to time; his soft acoustic lead fills on “State of Grace” and expressively mournful violin on the Blake-to-music “Poison Tree” particularly hit home, while the US singer offered sympathetic counterpoint harmonies to Orton’s laid-bare inflections.
Mixing the entire new album with back catalogue favourites like the hypnotic “Central Reservation” and dramatic “Concrete Sky”, Orton’s vocal at times recalled the melisma of Joni Mitchell and the purity of Sandy Denny. The emotive piano ballad, “Something More Beautiful”, was re-imagined as a simple guitar piece, her strumming becoming increasingly strident in the choruses. Pianist Nico Muhly joined Orton for the exquisite “Mystery” and while the live version lacked the subtle layering of the recorded song, Muhly teased some fine cascades of delicate notes to complement Orton’s fragile delivery. The insistent “Shopping Trolley” and a suitably cheery “Call Me The Breeze”, though totally different in feel, came close to matching those earlier, esoteric heights.
Orton closed the evening with a three-song encore, ending with an affectionate version of the Goffin-Goldberg classic, “It’s Not the Spotlight”, made most famous by Rod Stewart. It drew a standing ovation from a number of the crowd and while Orton might not have been totally at ease in the blue and red bathed stage light tonight, she left on a pleasing high.