Beth Orton – Orange Peel (Asheville, NC)
Like a soldier’s last meal before going into battle, this show on the quiet, dark stage of the Orange Peel gave Beth Orton a respite in advance of her performance two days later at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Festival, where she would face down a sun-drained throng equally interested in finding kind bud and urinals as nuanced folk music. As if to compensate for what lay ahead, the Asheville gig played out like a folksinger’s dream. A summer shower drove a cool breeze through the length of the Peel; most of the crowd sat quietly around the stage hanging on her every word, the rest swirling lazily around the back of the venue. Orton was a waiflike storyteller gathered amongst friends.
Much of Orton’s success has come from her ability to bridge the gap between folk and electronica, but her live shows are more likely to focus on the former. She took the stage solo (to be joined later by another acoustic guitarist) and rolled through a handful of some of the slower tracks from her 1996 debut Trailer Park, including “Touch Me With Your Love” and a chill-inducing take on “I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine”.
Orton spoke little between songs, though she did drop a handful of “buggers” as she talked about the new dress she had torn before coming onstage. New material took up a large portion of the show and sounded like the logical progression from 2002’s Daybreaker (minus the beats and blips that seem likely to be added later). Wrapping up with “Sweetest Decline” and “Carmella”, Orton ended a brief, cozy evening with friends, before heading out to meet the sweaty masses.