The Manchester songwriter showcases recent album Flock’s dazzling technical brilliance and melodic exoticism
The lack of any gratuitous ego is a rare accomplishment, certainly within the field of music in which so many self proclaim as genius. However an air of understatement or self-deprecation that borders on detachment tends to leave a room rather grey. Such was the case for Jane Weaver‘s latest trip down to Brighton, a city she says she feels she’s performed in almost as often as her home town, Manchester.
Somewhat lacking the dazzling technical brilliance and melodic exoticism of her albums, which tend to shimmer and contract out there on the vanguard against mediocrity, unfortunately the celestially obsessed singer’s rather static presence on stage tonight didn’t quite translate as surrealistically personal or as poetically empirical it may have meant to, even if she still managed to achieve ovations from devoted acolytes.
Playing Lux from her most recent album Flock as opener didn’t help. Had she have skipped it and gone straight into, say, Sunset Dreams, Heartlow or The Revolution Of Super Visions, she may have triumphed, but things sort of shuffled to life, and the flame never quite lit the wick. The absence of energy weighed particularly heavily on Heartlow, which contains within its sinewy arrangement the elements which once made a star of Alison Goldfrapp, namely a flashy tempo and nimble folk tinged intonation. However, in person Weaver lacks the fashionable exuberance and elaborately lascivious nous with which the West Country disco maven is associated.
Perhaps the problem came from the equipment she was grappling with. At one point, Weaver pulled a despairing face and announced that her synth had gone wrong. “It sounds like the devil,” she quipped, but sadly for those of us wanting some air of danger or excitement, it did not. The irony of closing out so uninspiring a setlist with a track called I Need A Connection was not lost on us. The lyrical proclamations speak of finding commonality and togetherness, but tonight there was little of that on offer.
The saving grace was definitely Weaver’s voice, a tool she seemed reticent to employ but without doubt, her strongest weapon to date. Distinctive for its quirky intonation and radiant elegance, when she pulled herself out of that fug of peripheral apathy and called out three-dimensional melodies, a shift occurred, a spark flickered in the vacuum, and we all flocked back.