Beth Orton – Union Chapel, London 05/12/12

Union Chapel, London 5th December 2012

By Doron Davidson-Vidavski, 7th December 2012

One of the year’s most welcome musical returns has without a doubt been that of Beth Orton, whose latest record, Sugaring Season, may well be her finest since the much celebrated Central Reservation.

That Sugaring Season and this intimate show in support of its recent release come after a long absence from Orton is not discernible either from her voice or indeed her appearance. The former remains just as raw, raspy and riveting as it ever was and the latter… well, she sort of looks exactly the same as she did in the mid-2000s, before getting – as she puts it – “up the duff”.

But Orton is visibly nervous as she hesitantly arrives on stage and the first minute of album opener and latest single, ‘Magpie’, does not sound very assured. She pauses her performance and it immediately transpires that there is a rather noisy drone coming from the sound system, which is causing her distraction. The engineer remedies the technical problem and, in the interim, Orton apologises and asks the audience not to think her a diva. She then launches into ‘Magpie’ again and, this time, the song sounds just right.

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