Beth Orton features her latest release Sugaring Season after a six year hiatus, on her “Heavenly Sounds” tour playing churches and cathedrals around Australia.It’s fitting that a solo acoustic artist is also supported by a solo performer and in this case happens to be Oh Mercy’s Alexander Gow clad in a leather jacket. He is the classic left handed musician playing a right handed electric guitar.
Gow’s distinctive vocals endear him to the seated punters, and he even encourages us to laugh at his jokes. His laconic delivery of Oh Mercy tunes suits the ambience of the church confines. “This is a song about the guitar player in my band, Simon Okely. he’s very handsome” says Gow whilst introducing “My Man.” “They’ve turned the house of god into a marketplace. My CD is for sale. Would anyone like my setlist? Please come forward” A guy from the crowd kneels down and Gow anoints him, to chuckles of laughter from the crowd.
After a short hiatus, Orton takes to the stage with acoustic guitar in tow, and immediately launches into an a capella version of “Pieces Of Sky” hypnotising the audience from the outset with her dreamy, husky, unique vocals. Orton is flanked with a set of seven lit candles either side, and an imposing church organ forms the back drop. The sounds that she creates are indeed “Heavenly.” New songs “Dawn Chorus” and “State Of Grace” follow in quick succession, with the older haunting and beautiful track “Call Me The Breeze” played to sate her stalwart fans. After overcoming some initial nerves. Orton relaxes and starts chatting with us like we are old friends, regaling us about the “beautiful church” her new “Melbourne dress.”
“We’ve got the last supper up there. It always puts me at ease, I don’t know about you?” Orton poses to the audience. For new song “Poison Tree” Orton informs us that she’s played around with William Blake’s words. “Last Leaves Of Autumn” is played on grand piano as is “Words” to loud cheers from the seated throng. To a persistent requester of songs Orton shouts out “Jesus Christ” in frustration and then apologises. “Magpie” and “She Calls Your Name” are highlights in a catalogue of moving songs.
“This is a little song I’ll try not to massacre” says Orton when introducing her last song in the Encore. “It’s my favourite song; The Five Stairsteps, “Ooh Child.” Orton ends her captivating performance on a high note, and despite the melancholy feel of her material, leaves us all feeling uplifted.