BETH ORTON- The Junction, Cambridge 25.9.16

Beth Orton is a charming figure. Centre stage she stands, explaining that she can’t hear her backing track or the bass guitar to be able to start the set. ‘It took us 45 minutes to get going last night’, she quips. Nobody cares. The crowd shout ‘we love you’. Beth says ‘I love you too’. Like I said, charming. And when she does actually get started (thankfully only after a few minutes), she is, unsurprisingly, magical. White balloons serve as a backdrop to her silvery, sinewy, sequinned silhouette, so understated yet hypnotic; fitting for someone that has an incredible body of work spanning over two decades.

Of course, it is her latest offering, ‘Kidsticks’ (her sixth studio album) that she is here to promote, remaining steadfastly in the folktronica camp that most people would associate her with, but with more of a nod towards the ‘tronica bit than in recent ventures. ‘I can’t read music. I follow the coloured stickers to know where I have to play and some f*cking c*nt has moved them around for my first song’, she says slightly shyly, not really convincing anyone that this in any way affects her talent for songwriting. From the playfully cool, 80s-heavy bass of ‘1973’ to the simply mesmerising ‘Snow’, these new tracks, combined with a softer version of what is still a characteristic vocal, are so strong in their arrangement that they blow classics like ‘Stolen Car’ and ‘She Cries Your Name’ clean out of the water. Hell, even the guitarist’s ‘sex face’ didn’t detract from what was a truly stunning show. Seriously, he loves to play guitar. He gets away with it. He plays it well.

Anyway, in short, it is an absolute privilege to see tonight’s performance, a true artist that has paved the way silently for so many of the contemporary female artists we know today, perhaps willing to be in the background, definitely focusing on music-making rather than hype. It feels like here is someone that would die if they couldn’t create music. A rare treat from someone that can truly create and so hold her audience captivated, all that is left to say is thank you for a truly unforgettable evening and thank you for having the balls to just be you. Your new album is amazing.

Words and Pix : Anna C

Thanks to 9PR for letting us in too.