Weyes Blood brought her sublime, emotive soundscapes to Electric Brixton at the end of last month. We headed down to catch the spellbinding performance.
After selling out Islington’s Assembly Hall in April, Weyes Blood returns to London with her ‘Something to Believe’ tour. The dust has settled on Titanic Rising and there’s an assurance to Natalie Mering and her band’s sound that comes only with complete faith in the material they’re playing night after night: it’s effortless.
Before the show, there’s an odd mix of Ween, something Van Halen-y, Françoise Hardy’s ‘Message Personnel’ and 10cc’s ‘I’m Not in Love’. The classic, the odd and the naff, side by side. Listen hard enough and you’ll hear traces of them all. But tonight, it’s classic Weyes Blood.
She opens with ‘A Lot’s Gonna Change’ which builds and builds, soars, one hook into another. Then ‘Used to Be’, an emotional, harmony-laden rouser. A joyous rendition of ‘Everyday’ is understandably a popular choice, managing to sound comfortingly old-timey yet in step with these current wild times. Later on, Mering says with a smirk: “we all hop into the time machine from time to time”. An even bigger smirk accompanies her post-truth natterings, asking if anyone believes Stanley Kubrick filmed the moon landings, for example. For the few boomers in the audience, she sings Procol Harum’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ in the encore. It’s an improvement on the original, although it doesn’t quite match the strength of her own tunes.
“You guys ready for some more sad songs?” she asks, before playing ‘Picture Me Better’. Framed around the death of a friend, it is exquisitely sad and affecting. A wave of stillness rolls over the room and, conceivably, tears are shed.
Other highlights from Titanic Rising – ‘Andromeda’, ‘Wild Time’, ‘Diary’ – are offered up without a single off note. Not one. Mering’s voice is stupendously good. Perhaps a bit of extra grit could enhance some of the chamber-pop stylings, as on record there is a bit more sonic experimentation and, momentarily, they can sound a bit too polite. But then the climax of ‘Movies’ is immense, the transition from stately poise to unbridled joy so well-judged, as she chucks her embroidered white jacket to the ground and starts to twist and extend her hands out above. She draws things to a reverent, awed close with a subdued solo rendition of ‘In the Beginning’.