Beth Orton Thekla review: 8/10

Review: Thekla, Bristol 7th December 2012 from

BETH Orton is a Brit-award winning singer-songwriter from East Anglia who came to the public attention after collaborating with the likes of the Chemical Brothers and William Orbit.

Orton is unusual for a British artist finding success in America, with her mix of folk and electronica featuring on television series such as Grey’s Anatomy and Dawson’s Creek, and films such as Vanilla Sky.

Famous and successful she may be, but Orton still has to worry about public transport.

Although, perhaps, she was unduly worried about missing her train from Bristol and even checked her watch several times during the performance.

Support at this gig came from Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards, led by a deep-voiced singer and open to a lot of comments about playing on a boat.

Orton has returned to tour her first album in six years, after taking time off to become a mother to two children.

Her husband Sam Amidon, joined her in the band.

Opening track Magpie was from this new album, Sugaring Season, with new songs joined by old favourites for a set in front of a knowledgeable crowd of fans who politely shouted out song suggestions.

Both of her previous albums were nominated for the Mercury Prize, and the new material compares extremely favourably to her back catalogue.

This was music to warm the cockles on a bitterly cold night, with highlights including the charming Central Reservation and more dramatic Concrete Sky.

Something More Beautiful, on record a piano ballad, was re-imagined as a simple piece for the guitar piece, Orton’s playing increasing in vigour during the choruses.

Her folkiness came through most strongly on new song Call Me the Breeze: “Call me the sea/ Call me the stream/ Call me the sky/ Call me the leaves,” as Orton becomes a mother nature figure.

Breakthrough track She Cries Your Name was a highlight, as was Poison Tree, a musical reworking of a William Blake poem, from an artist who, if she did not have a train to catch, could have stayed with us in Bristol all night.

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