Beth Orton | Pop review

Pigalle Club, London W1

"So I'm just here singing you a bunch of old songs really," announces Beth Orton, two numbers in. It's an inauspicious greeting, particularly since the issuing of Trailer Park might strike cynics as a bit of a recessionary re-release since her latest album was three years back. It's 13 years since that debut, an acclaimed blend of trip-hop and folk that won her a Mercury nomination as well as the moniker of "the comedown queen".

Though she's approaching 40 now (as are, by the looks of it, the cosy couples making up tonight's audience) she proves ever the awkward teenager on stage – tonight nerves make the effortless voice of her recordings strained and laboured. The lovely lightness of "Central Reservation" is rudely interrupted with an "oh shit" when she fluffs it. Later, she gets in a lyrics-pickle on Ryan Adams's cover, "This One's Gonna Bruise". "Don't let it spoil the moment! Feel like my heart's really in it!" she implores the audience, desperately adding, "… It is!" When, third time lucky, she finally nails it there's a blokeish cheer from the preternaturally patient and adoring audience – their relentless jolliness an odd backdrop to the gentle melancholia of her songs.

"I was really professional last night," she tells us towards the end, "you'd have been surprised and impressed." Perhaps. And when she caps things off with "Feel to Believe" as an encore, she and her voice finally surprise with their confidence. Otherwise though, there's not much to be impressed by.


Hermione Hoby

The GuardianTramp

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