Wednesday 7th November, 2018
I’d seen Jane Weaver provide excellent support to Public Service Broadcasting earlier in the year and promised myself that if she played in Bristol I would go, so I did.
I missed the support act entirely, by being at Bill Ryder Jones’ instore gig instead, but I was there in time to get a decent seat before Jane came on.
Having seen Jane with a full band before, having just her and a bank of keyboards didn’t seem enough. There was also a guitar and a record deck up there on stage as well as laptops and the projector. I liked the visuals and they did add an extra layer, patterns, shapes and natural themes swirled. Soft and bold colour pallettes mixed with gentle focus to add to the dreamy feel. Yet somehow I felt a lack of emotional connection or sense of wholeness to this gig.
The difference between music heard live and recorded is enormous for me. I’m sure there are scientific theories you can dig out to do with the resonance of sound waves and the like, but it is a very different experience to hear a violin played live in front of you than to hear it recorded. There were points when Jane was singing when I wasn’t entirely sure she was doing so live! Ditto the electronics. About the only thing I felt sure was live was the acoustic guitar. Perhaps this is fault of Jane’s vocal being too perfect, whatever it was, it sounded too put together and crafted. The realness of live music is in the rawness. It is in being able to see and hear the performer breath, pause, speak and be slightly different to the recorded version. It isn’t in the polished perfectionism Jane gave us at this gig. There was also no airing for Architect, which I found to be surprising given that it is her best known song.
I wonder if Jane Weaver is shy, as she barely spoke between songs and seemed to prefer hiding in the dark behind the bank of electronics. I would never have the courage to be a performer and it takes some bravery and guts to be up there in the first place so I am hardly one to judge. Jane has a fabulous voice, as sharp and as clear as a nightingale. She can also clearly write a great synth pop tune.
Overall, despite enjoying this gig, it wasn’t the experience I was hoping for. I didn’t feel swept away in the music as I had done when I saw her before. I was hoping to be taken on a sonic journey where I felt I’d escaped reality for a beautiful, dreamy world of synths. What I had was a pleasant evening. I’m sorry Jane.