With its soothing effect, Beth Orton’s music could be described as mellow.
But this description does not capture the essence of the British singer’s music-it fails to convey the intensity with which she sings, the emotional fervor that makes Orton unique among the slew of female singers trying to become more than a B-stage Lillith Fair act.
The red stage lights made Orton appear iridescent in her fiery orange tank top and red cardigan as she took the stage to perform at the 9:30 Club Wednesday. She passionately sang songs from her first album, Trailer Park, and from her latest release, Central Reservation..
Opening with the upbeat “Touch Me” from the debut album, Orton then moved into “Love Like Laughter,” a song that forces you to sway to the simple beat. A soft ballad from Central Reservation, “Sweetest Decline” received an energetic response from the crowd, which then quieted as Orton began to perform. Her sensuous voice soared sweetly over the keyboards and percussion.
Orton left the stage after performing 12 songs, but returned within seconds for an encore. She performed the title track from her recent release as well as “Stolen Car,” the single that is in rotation on some radio stations. The crowd still was not satisfied and beckoned Orton back to the stage.
She returned with her guitarist and the duo performed Orton’s cover of the Ronnettes’ “I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine.” Although the entire concert continually evoked emotions, the final song Orton performed contained more emotional flair and power than all the other songs combined.
In her delicate English accent, Orton told the fans that she hadn’t played this song since she recorded it, but she would try. Alone, on the stage with her guitar, Orton gave a dramatic and gut-wrenching rendition of “Feel to Believe.” No description could aptly describe the fervent emotion of the song. Orton’s impassioned voice, the complex guitar chords and lyrics such as “I can’t waste another second living in hell like it’s some kind of heaven” combined to mesmerize the crowd for the final moments of the concert.
Despite a few technical glitches and the continuous inconsiderate murmurs of those who attended because of the low ticket price, Orton demonstrated her maturity as a performer. Undaunted by the minor problems, she sang with brilliant emotion that seemed almost tangible in the packed club.