Tuesday evening in Tokyo, SHATTERJAPAN was lucky enough to catch British folk queen BETH ORTON play a cosy set in the safety of Shibuya’s Club Quattro to the backdrop of a raging typhoon. It was certainly more comfortable on the top floor of the building than it was outside, in a packed-out venue surrounded by unwinding post-work salarymen and wine-sipping couples.
After an hour of waiting with the same jazz song on repeat over the PA, we were finally rewarded as Beth approached the stage meekly and thanked the audience for coming to see her play in such conditions, remarking that she was incredibly happy to be safe inside with everyone.
Playing mostly tracks from her latest album Sugaring Season, fans were completely rapt with her performance, and when she wasn’t strumming her guitar or singing, you could have heard a pin drop for the sheer attention the crowd gave her.
The last time Beth played a show in Japan was 13 years ago, however it must hold a special place in the history of her career, considering Japan was the only country that saw the release of Beth’s incredibly rare first album, co-released with William Orbit, Superpinkymandy in 1993. Since that time, Beth has recorded a total of six studio albums, had her music featured on an array of television series, collaborated with The Chemical Brothers and won the 2000 BRIT Awards Best Female Artist.
The majority of her set on Tuesday night was on acoustic guitar, but she treated audience members to handful of songs on the piano, her thin frame hunched over the keys, emanating beautiful melodies from behind a curtain of blonde curls. Her vocal performance was raw and stunning, her voice breaking at points with the passion and emotion she put into her performance. Seemingly to be her last scheduled live performance for a while (according to her website), Tokyo was certainly lucky to experience such a warm and impassioned set from this extremely talented woman.