Pop: Live - Urban angst with a country smile
Beth Orton Shepherd's Bush Empire
Friday 19 December 1997
She strides on stage like a proactive Cinders who hasn't hung around waiting for some poxy fairy godmother to give her the nod. Still, it's something of a shock to see Beth Orton, the undisputed queen of self-deprecation, as the belle of her own ball.
Throughout, Orton keeps shaking her head, wearing the demeanour of a Jim'll Fix It contestant who never had to go home. Not even a burst of piercing feedback can wipe the grin off her face as she launches into Trailer Park's seductive, dance-inflected folk. The early songs find her brittle but compelling voice a little submerged by her seven-strong backing group, but she responds confidently to the mixing correction. Unfortunately, the twentysomething trendies for whom Beth's ballads are a dinner party treat, chatter away as if the vol-au-vents are about to be served.
Which is to imply that Orton's absorption of US folk and jazz is one dimensional. It's not. Echoes of Joni Mitchell are undeniable, and at one point Orton herself announces self-consciously that Terry Callier, a recent collaborator, won't be able to make it tonight. Banter with the audience, though, suggests that Orton has spent more time listening to Kathy Burke than Dancing Girl, and Orton goes on to prove she's more than the sum parts of her 10-gallon-hat record collection.
By the time she launches into crisp renditions of Sugar Boy and I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine, even the Deep South countrified hitch in her singing voice makes you wonder if she hasn't hailed from Norwich, Texas.
Fittingly for the inner-city pastures of Shepherd's Bush, Orton's neatest trick is to have infused her countrified musical vocabulary of broken hearts and promises with a contemporary sense of urban isolation. Of course, this being Beth Orton, and so it's all done with a smile. Loneliness never looked like so much fun.
Life & Style blogs
How Old Do I Look: Microsoft’s super advanced age-guessing app is terrible at guessing how old celebrities are, too
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
The 12 most sexually satisfied countries in the world revealed
ZX Spectrum to return with Vega reboot
Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
- 1 Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
- 2 #NotGuilty: Second Oxford student writes of brutal rape by two men who then threw her in a bin as part of campaign against victim blaming
- 3 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 4 Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
- 5 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...