By Poppy Tohill
Artist: Beth Orton
Date/ Venue: Saturday 18th May, 2013- Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland
The countrified melodic guitar rhythms and unique raspy vocals of the Wellington duo, Eb & Sparrowechoed throughout the cathedral which was packed to the brim as they concluded their set. It was a first in first serve kind of gig, with people streaming through the doors to gain the best seat. As fast as people were filing in, fans without tickets were being turned away at the door with confirmation that the gig was sold out.
Once eventually through the doors however, anywhere inside the church seemed to provide a great view and the audience sat in anticipation waiting for an intimate acoustic experience with Beth Orton.
Having not toured in New Zealand for "about a billion years now" she recalled, Orton put on a magnificent show that her large following of fans immensely enjoyed.
With stained glass windows, dim lit chandeliers and an empowering wooden cross as her backdrop, Beth informed the crowd that churches are ‘rather relaxing places' as she went on to open her set with an enchanting a cappella version of ‘Pieces of Sky,' leaving her haunting voice shakily echoing within the four walls of the church.
Seemingly somewhat self-conscious at first mumbling to the audience, Orton soon warmed to the crowd with her quirky unfiltered, erratic chatter getting laughs from everyone in the audience.
Soon putting aside the acoustic guitar for a few minutes during her set, Orton turned to the piano, jokingly chattering about how in her head it is the middle of spring in her home country of England, but as it's autumn here she'll sing ‘Last Leaves of Autumn' just for us. The heartfelt, beautiful song which sounded perfect on the piano with no accompaniment, as her voice reached high pitches and sultry lows. The song was incredibly moving and proved to be a definite highlight for many.
As the night drew on, each song received more applause and louder cheers from the audience. Concluding her set with a quirky story about the bad omen of having a bird die on her doorstep and having to bury it, then to the good omen of a dove flying around her backyard the next day, she concluded this story with her ever so popular tune ‘Magpies' receiving a great reaction from the crowd as the gracious, humble musician walked off the stage.
Five minutes of non stop applause, whistling and cheers, Beth Orton took to the stage once more. She was very humbled by the eager and encouraging atmosphere of the crowd. Thus she rewarded her fans with an encore of her popular singles such as ‘She Cries Your Name' which all received great accolades from the audience members. Once again disappearing backstage, the audience awarded her with a well deserved standing ovation.
If Beth's heart-warming ballads, redemptive anthems and exceptional empowering beautiful voice didn't keep your ears enthralled then I'm sure her quirky chitter, chatter and interaction with the crowd would have kept you entertained!
Every single person who walked into the cathedral last night, walked out totally enriched and in awe of the beautiful harmonious and melodic sounds of Beth Orton. For those of us groupies who waited around afterwards to meet her, we were equally enriched by her down to earth and humble persona, all leaving with autographed paraphernalia and broad smiles across our faces.