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Weyes Blood At The Theatre At Ace Hotel, Friday, December 9th, 2022

Weyes Blood
Weyes Blood

Before Weyes Blood took the stage of the magnificent Theatre at Ace Hotel, I kept looking at the cartoonish rocket suspended from the ceiling. It’s up to anyone to come up with the right metaphor: as it was pointing downward, it could have aimed at piercing our hearts like a Cupid’s arrow, but, I kept thinking about the rocket in Hergé’s famous comic book “The Adventure of Tintin: Destination Moon” because of its red and white design. It could have perfectly fitted the vibe of the night since the audience was truly over the moon the entire time Weyes performed an equal number of songs from her remarkable two last albums, “And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow,” and “Titanic Rising.”

 Weyes Blood (real name Natalie Mering) is a national treasure, and her two sold-out shows at the Ace Hotel acknowledged her multiple talents. The songs sounded immediately timeless with lushly orchestral arrangements and her magnificent voice, inimitable and sumptuous. It’s amazing what Weyes Blood can do with her natural instrument, she effortlessly conveyed nuances and subliminal deviations that only a few singers manage to do and the display of feelings and emotional heights could be gorgeous to very intense. Between songs, she spoke with this calm and thoughtful tone, often joking in a deadpan delivery – she even invited us to stand up and mosh during her most church-y songs.

She opened the show with the magnificent “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody,” making an instant connection with the delighted audience. Wearing a very elegant white pantsuit, she right away welcomed us in her “living room,” but the magnitude of the songs that she performed was way above your average bedroom pop. Her graceful style certainly borrows from the ‘70s and the Laurel Canyon scene while the comparisons to Joni Mitchell and especially to Karen Carpenter (something which Natalie finds “embarrassing”) abound in the press but she certainly brings other elements to her transcendental chamber pop, and it would be very wrong to reduce her to a nostalgia act. With universal themes of loneliness of the human condition and worldwide apocalypses, she also knows how to capture the moment at perfection with songs like “God Turn Me into a Flower” and our ever-growing display of narcissism via social media. Even though her “groovy new band” was relatively small in comparison with the album orchestration, the sound of her lush secular hymns was recreated in a triumphant way. She alternated between relatively upbeat tunes – “Children of the Empire,” or “Everyday” – hymn-like numbers – “God Turn Me into a Flower” – and expansive to melancholic songs – “Grapevine” that has this amazing line, “California’s my body, and your fire runs over me,” intertwining personal heartbreak with environmental catastrophe. Meanwhile, she constantly switched between guitar and piano and was sometimes wandering on stage with only a mic in hand. She looked remarkably confident despite making herself vulnerable at each moment.

She became talkative mid-show, answering random questions from the audience and joking about astrology: most of her band is apparently Scorpio, and she is Gemini… “nobody wants that… but astrology is fake” she added. I could not have loved her more! She also mentioned we could stand up – seated shows are often intimidating, and most people waited until the end of the show to do so – but she added that this would “feel too much like church.”

She introduced the vintage pop exuberance of “The Worst Is Done” asking if some of us had to quarantine alone, anchoring one more time her storytelling in our collective experience, and the last part of the show, with the beloved “Andromeda,” then the luminous title track of her new album, “Hearts Aglow,” followed by the magical “Movies” from “Titanic Rising,” was a succession of crowd pleasers. It was the best way to end, on an overwhelmingly triumphant note while throwing a bouquet of white roses to the crowd. Still, she had to come back for an encore with the premonitory “A Lot’s Gonna Change,” a song written pre-pandemic, and the very intimate and emotional “Picture Me Better,” which she beautifully performed alone on guitar.

“Ten more songs!” screamed someone. “Ten more songs? We will have to play some Doors songs,” she replied with a smile. From church organ to folk guitars, from universal apocalypse to personal disaster, the show was a very captivating and often breathtaking experience thanks to Natalie’s stunning stage presence and her extraordinary voice. She has recently revealed that “And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow,” – which she has described as “feeling around in the dark for meaning in a time of instability and irrevocable change” – is the second installment of a trilogy. With the third album in view, it’s certainly thrilling to imagine where this elegant artist will go next.

Setlist
It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody
Children of the Empire
Something to Believe
Grapevine
God Turn Me into a Flower
Everyday
Wild Time
The Worst Is Done
A Given Thing
Twin Flame
Andromeda
Hearts Aglow
Movies
Encore:
A Lot’s Gonna Change
Picture Me Better

 

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