Live Review: Weyes Blood, Melbourne Recital Centre 26/02/20
Melbourne Recital Centre 26/02/20
Words by Jasmine Alavuk
Tickets provided by publicists
Melbourne’s silky pop songstress, Elizabeth, opened the night at Melbourne Recital Centre’s aptly named, Elisabeth Murdoch Hall. Behind keys, she fronted a haunting trio, cloaked in matching red ensembles and swaying to symphonies of romantic grief. An appropriate introduction to the evening, foreshadowing the self-aware romanticism that makes up Weyes Blood’s DNA.
Following Elizabeth’s performance, the lights dimmed and the crowd lauded Weyes Blood’s entrance. Natalie Mering, the lead of this Californian outfit, marched into the auditorium in an all-white uniform like a ship captain. The stage; her sea vessel and the arena; a candle-lit bathtub of feelings.
The band began with, ‘A Lot’s Gonna Change’, the first track on Weyes Blood’s 2019 release, ‘Titanic Rising’. Guitar notes melted into the crowd, bracing them for Mering’s vocals. ‘Used To Be’ followed giving everyone chilly spines as her voice echoed and belted off the walls, befitting of the recital centre’s cathedral-like acoustics.
Between songs, Mering joked, “I feel like an 8 year-old performing a recital in front of my disappointed family”. The audience were quiet, seated and anything but disappointed. Whoops and cheers reverberated when Everyday, “the only upbeat song” in the set – as Mering put it – roared into gear.
At one point, Mering probed, “On a scale of 1-10, how sad do you all feel?” Among the hushed crowd, someone shouted, “12!”, to which she replied with a sincere chuckle, “Good, it’s working”.
As the set carried on, smoke and vibrato lifted and stretched over goose pimpled scalps; heads jogged shyly to the rhythm. Someone from the crowd let a “yeehaw” loose when asked if we wanted more sad cowboy music.
When arpeggiated synthesisers signalled the start of ‘Movies’, a bellow of fierce shrieks and whistles thundered from the seats. The instruments coalesced and lifted as Mering steered a crescendo that mounted and crashed into the audience like a tidal wave. She shimmied off her embroidered jacket and in big bravado energy, tossed it to the side, flipping her hair over her shoulder like a long woollen scarf.
Phone torches ignited during the band’s cover of Alphaville’s ‘Forever Young’, their first attempt at performing the song live – although you’d have no idea – with crowd members getting on their feet, jostling their arms and hips to the timeless tune.
The band succeeded in performing a body of work that represents melancholic expression. Tight, liquid instrumentation guided an ocean of emotive songwriting. Mouths were agape, tears were wiped away. With Weyes Blood at the helm, the Titanic didn’t just rise, it soared.