BY ROGER HAYWOOD
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
“I probably know you all...” laughed Beth Orton in a joyful concert before an enthusiastic home crowd. And she was probably right.
She returned triumphantly to the venue in Norwich where as an eight- year-old she had helped her volunteer mother, 30 years ago, to convert St Swithin’s church in St Benedicts into what became the Norwich Arts Centre.
Much of her set was solo, but in some numbers she was effectively supported by Sam Amidon on guitar and violin, with an empathy that went beyond his being her husband.
All her songs were noisily applauded by an audience that knew every one. Perhaps the most enthusiastic greeting was for Call Me the Breeze; wistful but optimistic and from her latest album, Sugaring Season, her first new work for six years.
The singer/songwriter is at the peak of her abilities.
The wall-to-wall crowd loved every moment. She shows amazing voice control, from bell-like clarity to husky whisper, with swoops and growls, occasional startling vibrato. She truly is more than a singer but a skilled musician. In one intense silence as she sang us moving stories of love and life, a lone voice rang out, “Beth we love you”. And we all did.