Friday, 19 April 2013

Beth Orton at St.George's, Bristol, Monday 15th April 2013

Here's a review I wrote this morning for our local rag (with some assistance, it has to be said, from my escort on the night):

I didn’t much feel like going to a gig, being thick with a cold and arthritic, but the lure of St George’s – surely one of the finest concert venues in the country – and Beth Orton, who is returning to touring after a decade in which she got married and started a family, proved too much to resist. 

Having first come to prominence through her collaborations with William Orbit and the Chemical Brothers and then her own ambient 90s folktronica, these days there’s a somewhat more traditional feel to Beth Orton’s music. What hasn’t changed, however, is the sense of longing that pervades so many of her songs, a feeling or yearning for a better way of being, now lost, or of being haunted by the memory or dream of a time and a place where life was clearer and more whole. 

This feeling moves gracefully through her new album Sugaring Season, a beautiful suite of songs, which, like all good albums, seems to sound better each time you hear it. She played several of its songs at St George’s, including Call Me The Breeze, Something More Beautiful, Magpie, and Poison Tree, a particularly compelling take on the poem by William Blake from Songs of Innocence and Experience.

For die-hard fans, there were earlier songs too: She Cries Your Name, Someone’s Daughter, Central Reservation, Feel To Believe, Stolen Car to name a few.

Whether it was the rosy gold warmth of the venue’s decor or the transcendent music, I felt cocooned in a mellifluous beauty that negated even the hardness of the pews in the Gallery.  Rather more effective than huddling on the settee with a Lemsip, I feel.  

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