Beth Orton was awash with skittery nerves last night in the intimate living room space of the Slaughtered Lamb. She was struggling not only with sickness - promising not to projectile vomit over those cross legged at the front - but also the daunting prospect of climbing back into her 25 year old self for an acoustic rendition of 1996's gorgeous album Trailer Park, reissued this month.
Loved for her song writing honesty as much for her self deprecating slapstick stage presence, the warmly expectant audience didn't give a fig that her distinctively raw vocal was more authentically flawed than usual and she fluffed her guitar at times. Trailer Park was 13 years ago, after all, and her live appearances have been few and far between. Still, the stripped back delivery, devoid of any electro ambient fiddling or lush string arrangements, gave the familiar songs a fresh airing, emphasising the bare bones of intelligent songwriting, her uncompromisingly personal folk lyricism and only hinting at the amount of happy drugs she was on at the time.
While she's manifestly uncomfortable revisiting some tracks, the opening of Sugar Boy for example, the moment she forgets about puking and the fallacy that she's lost her upper register since having a baby, the powerful and passionate performer emerges. Galaxy of Emptiness ripped out of its 10 minute electro-ambient album setting sounds like a completely different track, plucked down from the stars and sung straight from a heart longing to regain hope. I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine (who knew it was a cover?), sends delightfully sad shivers down spines.
Clamorous requests for Sweetest Decline are eventually given in to for an encore, despite its being from another album, leaving a room full of fans agog at the prospect of hearing Central Reservation next time.