Jane Weaver’s unique brand of psychedelic pop/folk is intriguing to listen to, especially on her 2014 concept album, The Silver Globe, which was lauded by fans and critics alike, becoming the crowning highlight of her 20 year career. Her music is immersive when recorded; live it is something else.
Weaver transported the audience at The Bodega on Sunday night, with her layered, electronic sounds accompanied by her high and delicate voice creating a world that felt like she had uprooted a piece of the English countryside, planted it on the Moon and allowed it flourish. Many of her songs would break into long, psychedelic jams, with space sounds squelching over a backdrop of tribal drums, walking basslines and the singer’s signature voice, soaring over the top, causing the listener to catch their breath.
With many songs clocking in around the 8 minute mark with only one or two chord progressions, Weaver’s music relies heavily on subtlety and a slow building of sounds. This was achieved by fully utilising the excellent musicianship of her band and first-rate sound engineering: the plethora of sound effects, synth textures and audio effects, such as panning between the speakers of the room or sampling parts of a song to allow Weaver to sing in harmony with herself, made each song an exciting journey. The finesse with which this was achieved (“space wizardry” as Weaver referred to it at one point) made it feel like you were gently guided from A to B, with each added sound feeling entirely natural yet unpredictable.
The show was a full spectacle. Weaver was dressed in a copper sequinned jacket, with thick and glittery silver eyeshadow, and would robot dance to her songs, or throw her hand up dramatically for emphasis while singing. Sometimes she would step from behind her synthesiser and stand on the front edge of the stage, which she did while singing single Mission Desire, creating a greater sense of intimacy and making her feel like even more of a commander on the strange planet that she had taken us to. Her alien authority was enhanced by a spectacular light show that perfectly matched the music, and projected visuals of a cartoon of her face, video clips and pulsating neon soundwaves.
Every aspect of the show had been specifically devised to create an atmosphere, and while this could have led to inauthenticity, Weaver’s witty banter between songs reminded us that she is, in fact, human. After playing the eerie Twin Peaks-esque song, Arrows, Jane paused and addressed the audience, “So I didn’t get nominated for the Mercury Prize… It’s dark, dark like a David Lynch film. So I dedicate the next song to the judging panel,” before breaking into the explosive highlight of the evening, Don’t Take My Soul.
Weaver is a masterful songwriter and performer. She has the extraordinary ability to create and control an atmosphere and can change the mood of a room with a single note or look. Her familiarity with music of the past has made her an artist for the future, and one can only hope that the planet she’s created will continue to grow. Even if it’s not Mercury.
By Tushara Rose