Manchester has gone to town on Halloween this year for some reason. There’s orange, inflatable monsters everywhere, and Club Academy is no different. Weyes Blood a.k.a. Natalie Wering quipped when she introduced the band that “the look suited them perfectly”.
Wering’s witty and deadpan style is awkwardly endearing, whether straw-polling the audience on whether Stanley Kubrick helped fake the moon landing, or at difficult moments describing the loss of a close friend. At one point asking “Do we have any baby boomers in?” and responding self-deprecatingly “Who am I kidding, I know my audience.” She demonstrates a confidence on stage that suggests that she has found where she belongs and enjoying herself. And why wouldn’t she? Her recently-released album Titanic Rising has been highly praised and is starting to garner wider attention.
The feeling of the whole night was warm and bucolic, possibly due to the venue’s size and how cold it was outside. There was also a soundtrack of crickets chirping underneath throughout the set, which felt like we were watching the band on a warm, dry night in a field under a big mid-western U.S. sky. The nostalgic, retro vibe is very much in keeping with Titanic Rising. There’s a hippy, cosmic mysticism that sounds as if this album could have been released 50 years ago, whilst still feeling relevant and captivating. It says a lot about the album’s relative success, that the opening lines of ‘Something To Believe’, the song for which the tour is named, was already greeted with an anthem-like singalong from the crowd.
Opening the set as the album does with the odd, organ melody blending into a piano intro of ‘A Lot’s Gonna Change’, Wering’s powerful and resonant voice was immediately enchanting with noticeable, perfectly accompanied harmony. The crowd was quiet and expectant, hynotised by melodies that felt strangely familiar and classic. The live sound keeps to the core of piano, slide guitar and synth without the flourishes of strings and organs on the album, but this doesn’t seem to detract from their effect. ‘Everyday’, swirled and skipped and has been in my head ever since – this is a bona fide hit that hints at future mainstream penetration.
The set ends with ‘Andromeda’ – another standout – and then ‘Movies’, a slow, stirring song about Wering’s yearning for attention and stardom, over synthesizer arpeggios. The encore hosted a surprise cover of ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ and finished with an acoustic track – ‘In the Beginning’ from an old E.P. Cardomom Times.
I’m glad I got to see Weyes Blood in a smaller venue, which I think suits their sound. I always regret missing bands that tour when they have produced such quality music, but are still playing a small, intimate room. If they keep on producing albums of Titanic Rising’s quality, next time around they’ll be playing much larger, but perhaps less personal venues.