Beth Orton @ Le Studio TD

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By her own admission during the show, even Beth Orton herself doesn’t remember when she played in Montreal; it really has been that long!  According to, her last show here was all the way back in June 2002, so yeah, it’s been over 20 years at this point!  

To say this show is a can’t-miss would therefore be somewhat of an understatement.  Beth has been a legend in alternative circles for as long as I can remember, with a career spanning almost 30 years, but somehow I’ve never been able to see her live…until now.  It’s a fairly small crowd that greets her arrival on stage alongside her 5-piece band, but what they may lack in size, they certainly make up for in enthusiasm, cheering and, indeed, chatting with Beth throughout the 80-minute set.

Having recently released her 8th full-length album Weather Alive, the show unsurprisingly borrows heavily from that record, featuring all eight songs from it during the 14-song set.  The title track kicks things off in ultra-mellow fashion, fitting the relaxed, chilled vibe of the room perfectly under dim light before a low hum leads seamlessly into the delicate twinkle of Friday Night.  The small, respectful crowd lends to a gloriously intimate experience; you can truly hear a pin drop during the songs, with no irritating chatter from the bar polluting the mood in any way.  The bass funk intro of Fractals picks up the pace, coalescing into the twirling guitars and even some saxophone, which is soon replaced with a flute on Forever Young.  The array of percussion around the stage during Haunted Satellite is also a sight to behold.  For such a small show, the musicianship and production is truly remarkable.  With tours being cancelled on a regular basis right now on account of the rising costs associated with their implementation, it’s a credit to Beth that no expense has been spared in bringing this show across the pond from her native England.  17 dates over the course of the month for a 6-piece band with all these instruments, touring the continent is no mean feat!

Of course, the reception for the classics peppered among the set drew the biggest cheers of the night.  Sweetest Decline from 1999’s classic Central Reservation record sees Beth exchange keys for acoustic guitar for the first time and is swiftly followed by Pass In Time from that same record, which remains beautiful in its fragility, magnified even more by the dim red light that bathes the stage throughout.  The title track from that record is even more delicate, as the 6-piece becomes 3, with just a cello and two acoustic guitars somehow sounding both grandiose and minimalist at the same time.  The magnificent She Cries Your Name, from the 1996 Trailer Park record, also combines cello, flute, and Beth’s guitar to spectacular effect and again showcases the phenomenal musicianship on show tonight.  It’s a remarkable show from start to finish; one truly hopes it’s not another 20 years until Beth’s next visit!


  1. Weather Alive
  2. Friday Night
  3. Fractals
  4. Haunted Satellite
  5. Sweetest Decline
  6. Pass in Time
  7. Arms Around a Memory
  8. Forever Young
  9. She Cries Your Name
  10. Central Reservation
  11. Unwritten


  1. Lonely
  2. Blood Red River
  3. Call Me the Breeze

Review & photos – Simon Williams

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