Beth Orton The Garage, London
Friday 14 February 1997
Luckily, Orton doesn't play those games; her aside about misery only made you warm to her. Her dance-influenced folk was unmannered, laid back, smiling - as unfazed by buzzing gremlins in the sound system ("sounds like the south of France in here") as she was intent on getting across her songs.
Even the lead singer of the support act, Travis, the promised next-big- thing, hadn't read the manual that says that up-and-coming rock gods need attitude, not a big grin. Instead, they delivered pulsing bass lines overlain with chromatic guitar lines, tied together with honest-to-goodness tunes; even if one of their numbers was on more than nodding terms with Abba's "The Winner Takes it All". But with pop references like that, how can you fail?
Of course, there's always a danger in trying to stuff too many references into a song. Acoustic-guitar based singer/ songwriter meets the Chemical Brothers' club sound might smack of experiment for its own sake. But not with Beth Orton. She marries a folk sensibility and a gift for wistful lyricism with keyboards and shuffling drum breaks without it ever taking the easy (and these days ubiquitous) route of grafting on trip-hip rhythms as an afterthought.
The mesmerising "She Cries Your Name", for example, opened with a crescendo of soaring, giddying, treated violins, which moved on to a lament about the impermanence of love, Orton's voice resonant, yet on the edge of cracking. Another highlight was her haunting version of the Phil Spector-penned "I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine". Its sparse structure, which recalls the stripped-down arrangements that Tim Friese-Greene brought to Talk Talk, allows the beauty of the melody and lyrics to be laid bare.
That song had a clarity of purpose that was occasionally missing in her performance - all the elements were there but the net effect having all the punch (without the vocal strength) of Tanita Tikaram's folksy fare. But this is a unique and magical sound - the best antidote to the manufactured kookiness the chart demands of its female artists. And her smile is infectious.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Ashya King missing: Police hunt five-year-old boy with brain tumour snatched from Southampton hospital by his parents
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
- 5 Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits after falling ill
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
Strictly Come Dancing v X Factor: Simon Cowell blasts BBC over scheduling war
Doctor Who series 8: Ofcom will not investigate lesbian kiss
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >