Beth Orton (supported by David Kitt)
Review of her gig in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 31 Mar 2000
Now, I'm not normally an admirer of the Olympia Theatre as a music venue. Some people may disagree but there's a lingering niggle there that I just can't seem to shake. However, on this occasion, I was really looking forward to the prospect of kicking back in 'row 12 seat 18' and taking in the melodic tunes of Beth Orton and support act, David Kitt? If only life could be so sweet! Either my ticket was printed wrong or the powers that be had a swift change of heart when they realised how many more pennies could be made by making it a standing gig instead.
Kitt took to the stage with his trusted mini-disc at 8pm. Apart from a group of die-hards congregating at the front, the place was still practically empty. He delivered his outstanding acoustic insights with his usual commitment nonetheless and after a brief solo set was joined by the rest of his band. The added clarinet, glockenspiel and keyboards provided more life and as the punters poured in for the main event they were greeted by the mesmeric 'Song From Hope St.' People were starting to take note. The showstopper arrived in the minute form of Robbie Kitt, David's kid brother, who arrived on stage for the finale. Every time the youngster belted out the high-pitched "?I hope you want me too", he was met with rapturous appreciation from the large crowd that had now assembled.
I was really looking forward to seeing whether the 'butterfly of pop', Beth Orton, could bring the same eloquent smoothness of sound that she creates in the studio to a live arena. The answer, emphatically, was yes. Not only that, she could also demonstrate an edgier, rockier output when required on crowd pleasers like 'She Cries Your Name', 'Stolen Car' and 'Central Reservation.'
Norfolk's finest opened with the glorious 'Stars All Seem To Weep' with a celestial backdrop that more than hinted towards what was to come. More heavenly tunes followed, though I was a little disappointed that the legendary Terry Callier was not to provide the backing on 'Pass In Time.' It was more in hope than expectation, I admit, but that was forgotten after an awesome rendition of 'Devil Song.' A crap joke and the spitting out of a loose filling followed and already she had this decidedly art-schoolish audience eating out of her hands. The reflective 'Sweetest Decline' ended with the proclamation, "You can't pin this butterfly down", there wasn't a doubter in the house.
The set was dominated by songs from her second album, 'Central Reservation' but Orton did get a chance to put her guitar down for 'Trailer Park's' beautiful 'Sugarboy'. She does, quite often, opt for performing in a solo acoustic setting but the full line-up certainly showcases the true aesthetics of her work far better. The violin and cello stood out but the fading piano on 'So Much More' welled up even the burly security men.
For the encore she emerged alone to play 'Love Like Laughter', without doubt the highlight of the night, delivered so delicately and with such haunting grace. Who needs chemicals? Beth Orton and guitar - a mind altering substance. The band rejoined her and they played a couple more songs but the rest is a bit hazy, I was still in a trance.