Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Beth Orton Can't Whistle

Although her cough (aka f*ing lung infection as she called it) may have had something to do with that. Despite the difficulties, Orton put on an enjoyable, personable show. Her crowd banter was engaging if not quite funny. Her jokes fell flat, although that may be attributable to the language barrier (she's English). Her older works stood up well under the stripped down instrumentation she is now playing. The songs from her newest album, Comfort of Strangers, were more alive than they are on the disc. Especially Worms, the album's opening track and probably the high point of the evening for me (while a wonderful performance, the construction of the concert was relatively nondescript).* As the evening's most rousing number and Orton's sole turn on the piano, Worms was the only song that shook the evening's pace.

Beth, you did a wonderful job and you're quite the gamer with your two encores. Feel better (fat chance, Sunday was the first night of her tour). And, please, work with Willy Mason.

Willy Mason was the opening act. In something of a new experience for me, I was familiar with the opening act before the show thanks to my having stumbled across his precocious Oxygen. I was interested to find out if he is a real talent or just a guy who got lucky with one song. Sadly, he's neither at this point. When he sings slow, deep (voiced that is), almost rythmless songs, he's any guy on stage. When he adds pace to his music his voice and wit show themselves to be something special. The pace may simply force him to annunciate better (he's a bit of a mumbler when he speaks- I never did catch the last name of his clarion voiced violinist / accompaniest Nina something or other). Unfortunately, more of his performance was the any guy on stage than the guy you remember. But at only 20 or so years old, he's still finding himself. I remain hopeful.

*Full disclosure, I am enamored with the lyrics to this song, such as:
They [chickens] got a wishbone
Where their backbone
Shoulda grown


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