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Beth Orton Review: Folk Fused With Krautrock For a Truly Impressive Gig

[Evening Standard]

By Elizabeth Aubrey

The Roundhouse was turned into an intimate fully seated venue on Saturday for the arrival of electro-folk favourite, Beth Orton.

“This is like a big old hug,” Orton said of the welcome she received in the round. “There’s nowhere to f***ing hide,” she added, exhibiting the endearing awkwardness that has characterised her performances since her 1996 breakout, Trailer Park.

Orton delivered an expansive set including She Cries Your Name, from 1993 debut Superpinkymandy, to Trailer Park favourite I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine. Yet it was material from her last record, 2016’s Kidsticks, on which Orton collaborated with Andrew Hung of F*** Buttons to fuse folk with krautrock and synth, that truly impressed. Accompanied by Grey McMurray on stage, the two recreated the album’s experimental rhythms and deconstructed smashes with a skilful use of pedals, guitars and mixing desks.

Orton’s reinvention was best illustrated on 1973. Combining high pitched vocals with delicate synths and krautrock repetitions, its new wave feel couldn’t have been further away from the trippy Stars All Seem to Weep that followed, recalling Orton’s peak folktronica days. Moon, Wave and Falling demonstrated Kidsticks’ boldness and Orton’s ability to devastate lyrically. “Now my phone book / is filling up with dead friends,” she sang on the latter.

The dichotomy between folk introspection and experimentation that Orton has battled with through her career was still present. Yet she finally seemed at ease with being defined by the juxtaposition — and ready to experiment further.