Into Live Music Review: Weyes Blood
Date: 11 November 2023
The Old Fruitmarket in Merchant City is one of many iconic live music venues that Glasgow has to offer – and the recent sympathetic refurbishment has managed to maintain a feeling of yesteryear when you step inside. The exposed brickwork and double height roof space also helped to create a special sound for the artists who play there. On a typically autumnal cold & wet Glasgow evening, it’s pretty much the perfect setting for a gig.
Mering’s first visit to Glasgow from her home in Pennsylvania, USA was in 2007 when she both sang and played bass in an American ‘noise’ band. It’s fair to say that her sound has changed quite a bit since then, and for the better in my humble opinion.
Augmented by an outstanding four-piece band of multi-instrumentalists on percussion, keyboards and electric/acoustic & slide guitars – the set had tracks from all three albums she has released as Weyes Blood, though mainly drawn from her recent album, 2022’s And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow.
Much has been written about the influence of Kate Bush on Mering’s work – and visually, when you see her live, swirling & pirouetting in a white dress with matching chiffon cape, it does indeed give this Kate Bush fan flashbacks to the ground-breaking Wuthering Heights video from 1978.
However, audibly, the first and last songs played in the fourteen-song set suggest there are more relevant comparisons to draw from two other iconic female artists. Mering’s first song was It’s Not Just Me It’s Everybody, the voice very reminiscent of another modern-day female diva, Lana Del Ray. Emotional but cool, distant but unmissable. Even although it was a sell-out gig, you could still hear a pin drop when Mering was pouring her heart out singing:
‘Sitting at this party, wondering if anyone knows me.
Really sees who I am, it’s been so long since I felt really known.’
Although the rest of the set was varied, challenging and generally excellent, this first song was arguably the highlight of the evening, epitomising everything that makes Mering so captivating.
And mercifully, her ‘lost’ voice held up very well throughout the gig, and according to Mering, this was due to an old Scottish remedy of “smoked trout and malt whisky”. Who knew!
Fast forward ninety minutes to the final song. Mering’s band had been outstanding throughout, however, she’s was now standing alone on the stage, with just her acoustic guitar for company, no place to hide. The last time she was in Glasgow on stage with her acoustic guitar, she professed her love for Aztec Camera, and promised to learn and play one of their songs for her next visit. She hadn’t and therefore didn’t! Maybe next time…
Thankfully this didn’t detract from a mesmeric performance of Picture Me Better. Mering had time-machined back to the early 1970s, evoking sounds and images of when Karen Carpenter was at her finest. It says everything about her ability as a performer that Mering can pay homage to two iconic female artists in Del Ray and Carpenter, and at the same time continue to sound totally unlike anyone else currently releasing new music.
For the encores, Mering performed with her trademark red-glowing heart beating with pride on her breastbone. On the evidence of her performance in Glasgow, it’s fair to say, she wears an extra heart on her sleeve too.