Weyes Blood @ The Workshop, Adelaide 5/3/2020

After the first song of the set, A Lot’s Gonna Change (the title of the tour) which includes a menacing Phantom of the Opera like organ overture, Natalie Mering regards the fake animals hanging from the ceiling above the audience and announces, “Welcome to the jungle”, unaware the same line has been used already by another performer at a show previously held in the Adelaide Festival venue The Workshop. She continues, “We’ll play that one later. We worked it out in the green room”. This gives some indication of the dichotomy of Natalie Mering as her musical alter ego Weyes Blood, performing a set of her own brand of chamber melancholy broken up by commentary that she herself later apologises for as “bad jokes”. She is genuinely surprised by the size of the audience, commenting that it is as though all of Adelaide is here tonight. She is thankful to be here as two delayed flights very nearly meant that the band almost did not make it.

The first third of her set songs are alternate picks from her last two albums, Titanic Rising (which is performed nearly entirely) and Front Row Seat To Earth (half is performed). In the live setting, Used To Be doesn’t quite reach the heights of ethereal soul of the recorded version due to the absence of a horn section but Natalie’s voice certainly carries the song beautifully before Everyday is described as “our only upbeat song”.

A mid-set poll is held regarding whether the audience believes the moon landing was faked and filmed by Stanley Kubrick and Natalie outs a few non-believers as being the biggest number this tour thus far. She concludes this topic by announcing, “Ever since the moon landing poetry has been dead” and commences a sequence of songs from Titanic Rising with Something To Believe. Natalie is introduces Picture Me Better as a song she started writing about her struggle with self-worth but became about a friend who took his own life . Having occasionally played keyboards up to this point, she picks up an acoustic guitar, and paraphrases the lyrics from the song that follows, Andromeda, “Let’s go to another galaxy”. After the glacial synths and drums of Mirror Forever, the next song is introduced as their “jam song” and the audience is invited to get freaky for Do You Need My Love.

There are vocal similarities to Karen Carpenter but other comparisons are the folk of Judee Sill and Laura Nyro among her 70’s styled free folk fare. Hardly any of the songs appear to have clear endings and are at times simply excursions into experimental noise. Movies momentarily diverts into the field of minimal classical and avant garde before going bombastic and Natalie throws off her Weyes Blood jacket before the band leave the stage very briefly.

The encore is preceded by Natalie proclaiming, “As long as we’re here we should play some more. We won’t be here tomorrow”. The first song they play is Generation Why (“for the young people”) with the lyrical refrain “Y O L O” transcending the everyday use of the phrase. Their second song is not the aforementioned promised cover but another, Forever Young, “Alphaville’s version,” Natalie clarifies. For the final song of the set, Natalie is alone on stage as Weyes Blood accompanying herself on acoustic guitar for Bad Magic. This was a very special performance that luckily the delayed flights only resulted in the set starting half an hour later than planned.

Adelaide Festival Review By Jason Leigh