Beth Orton at the Varsity Theater, Minneapolis (10/10/12)

It’s been six years since Beth Orton came to Minneapolis, despite the audience saying that Orton was last here “ten years ago.” One thing is for sure, six years is still too long.

Opening up was Sam Amidon, who played acoustic, banjo, and fiddle (but not all at once.) I don’t know if he was just taking the piss, but he played an awful fiddle instrumental (think fingernails across the chalkboard) and then did the world’s worst cover song of Tears for Fears’ “Heads Over Heel” (at one point even asking the audience to remind him of the lyrics.) If it was meant for comedy, I don’t think anyone thought it was funny.   When Amidon is on his game, he played folky songs about trains, old hymns (“Oh, He’s Taken My Feet”), “Pretty Fair Damsel,” and “green, green” grass.

Amidon ended his set with “How Come That Blood.”

Beth Orton had three spare guitars on stage, which I am assuming were all pre-tuned (although Orton does a fair amount of tuning while telling little stories). One guitar was exclusively for her husband Amidon.

Although this tour was meant for the new album Sugaring Season, I felt that she did a good mix of old songs. Of the new songs, I remember hearing were “Candles”, “State of Grace”, and “Call Me the Breeze”.

The rest seems like a ton of “old” songs, which is exactly what the fans wanted to hear. Some of these songs were played: “Touch Me With Your Love”, “Sugar Boy”, “Shopping Trolley”, “Concrete Sky” (big cheer for that one), “Stolen Car” (my favorite), “Galaxy of Emptiness”, “Pass in Time”, and “Central Reservation.” Two songs for the encore, I only recognize the latter to be “Feel to Believe.”   Most of the set was just Beth Orton, her voice, and her acoustic guitar. Sometime Amidon would come on stage to play additional acoustic and vocals. It seems like he only appears on the new songs (in particular harmonizing on “Call Me the Breeze.”)

The other thing you should know is that this show was entirely seated. I’ve never been to a Varsity Theater show that was seated, so what I can tell you is that the typical concert venue was transformed into a fancy listening room. Which is, to be honest, is perfect for Orton’s quiet acoustic songs.

If you were hoping for a more electronica sound like “Stars All Seem to Weep” or her collaboration with The Chemical Brothers, you may be in for a disappointment… this was purely a folk singer show.

Beth Orton is currently on tour in support of her latest album, Sugaring Season, out now on ANTI- Records

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