Beth Orton, Union Chapel, London


3.00

 

"Call me the sea/ Call me the stream/ Call me the sky/ Call me the leaves," Beth Orton informs us, in her distinctive nasally folk twang, on new track "Call Me the Breeze". There’s a great deal about the elements - the moon, the sun, the sky, the leaves, the breeze, the wind – in this patchy, mainly solo performance in these reverential environs.

The playful and pastoral "Call Me the Breeze" is a highlight tonight among a sea of apologies and minor technical hitches. "Mind if I start again?" she asks us halfway through her first number, "Magpie", before apologising for being "a diva" and duly starting again. There's a lot of this from the self-deprecating singer, who admits "I don't know why I'm so nervous tonight". She needn't be, as she's among ardent "friends", and her tranquil new album (her first in six years), Sugaring Season, is arguably her strongest yet.

At her finest, the former “comedown queen” recalls, vocally and lyrically, the likes of Julianne Regan, Carly Simon, Edie Brickell and Sandy Denny. However, it would have been a slight relief if, just occasionally, the endearing singer had truly let rip (with some gospel, rap, reggae, anything), if only to warm our chilly toes, but there are still moments of transcendental loveliness here.

The pick of her delicate material is the soulful “Something More Beautiful”, on which the willowy 41-year-old sings “When you feel too much to ever let it show/ You turn it up, turn it down, turn it round, and leave/ When you just don’t concede/ With what you believe.” This sensual song would have suited Otis Reading’s voice beautifully.

It's noticeable how much Orton's guitar work has improved under the tutelage of Pentangle founder Bert Jansch, although she unnecessarily informs us of "a guitar malfunction" after the wonderful, Weimar Republic -era sounding "Sea Through Blue". Stop saying sorry.

The new material stands up extremely well against tracks from her first two critically lauded (both were nominated for a Mercury Prize) folktronica albums, Trailer Park and Central Reservation. However, the mournful lament “She Cries Your Name”, her breakthrough song (which memorably includes the word "euphorically"), is still her most compelling track. "Oldies" such as "Central Reservation" and "Shopping Trolley" are also treats.

For the encore Orton exclaims "Anything you want played, just tell me". She's met with sporadic, barked demands, which she awkwardly tries to please.

Orton, with fewer apologies and with a full band, is capable of a barnstorming performance, especially off the back of her exquisite new album. But tonight wasn't quite the night.

News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy