Weyes Blood

– Club Academy, Manchester –

Natalie Mering, commonly known as Weyes Blood, has made one of the very best albums of the year in Titanic Rising. On the cover of this extraordinary album, Mering floats underwater in a what looks like her teenage bedroom, an otherworldly, slightly unsettling image as she looks directly at us through the scene; is she drowning? Is this the end? Has climate change (a huge theme throughout the album) finally claimed the world, sinking middle America? Who knows, but it perfectly encapsulates the songs contained within the LP, and it perfectly sums up Mering’s wonderful, tender, soaring, beautiful performance tonight.

The album opens and closes with different arrangements of the hymn ‘Nearer My God To Thee’, the song that the band apparently played as the Titanic went down, and the soundtrack for CNN’s final broadcast that will play out as doomsday happens (I shit you not, this exists). It’s a heavy metaphor done exquisitely, and it doesn’t weigh down on the album which is actually quite breezy considering the lyrical content, and this is because Mering does incredible, 70s FM radio songs like no one else around. Tonight, it’s her voice that really stands out, it’s completely stop-you-in-your-tracks stunning, and the Club Academy’s crystal clear sound system is pouring it into my ears like caramel. There’s a moment at the end of the night, on the very final song ‘In The Beginning’ where I just close my eyes and luxuriate in her voice, solo on stage, her band departed, she soars onto another plane, taking me with her. All night she uses that gorgeous, throwback vocal to pull me into her songs, the desperate lyrics on ‘Diary’ ‘baby please don’t go away/ just give me more time/ I’ll change my mind’ delivers in a way could bring tears to the most hardy of constitutions. ‘Andromeda’ is dramatic and perfect, and ‘Something to Believe In’ could be a long lost Carpenters song, with Mering doing a sterling impersonation of Karen, possibly the highest compliment you can give someone tbh.

It’s album centrepiece ‘Movies’ that really sets this gig alight, building slowly into a full blown dramatic epic, the drums pounding around the bubbling synths as the song peaks, Mering really going for it; it’s ethereal, captivating, beautiful and totally affecting. If there’s one thing that sums Weyes Blood up, it’s her choice of cover in the encore. Taking on Procol Harum’s classic 60s mega hit ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, she absolute nails it, the bit with ‘and so it was…’ absolutely electrifying, the keyboard playing that riff, Mering having a ball, the whole place transformed into a late 60s after party at 5am in the morning, people on the come down, the sun coming up, a performance so magnetic that it’s impossible to tear yourself away. It leads into the afore mentioned stunner ‘In The Beginning’, me wishing this was just the beginning instead of the Titanic’s final descent, I could luxuriate in this warm-blanket-on-a-freezing-day performance for about another 5 hours I reckon. We don’t get people like Weyes Blood very often, that perfect combination of forward facing and throwback, and we don’t get people blessed with her buttery vocals very often either. We should treasure her, and she should be a star.

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