Review and Photography by John Bentley

Jane Weaver, Manchester Deaf Institute, 21-3-15

Seemingly from nowhere, Jane Weaver shot to prominence last year with her cosmic, trippy, space-folk-rock album, ‘The Silver Globe’, the title taken from a 1970s sci-fi film. However, Weaver has been making music since the 1990s with various bands and solo, as well as running a record label.

Horsebeach, Manchester Deaf Institute, 21-3-15

The Silver Globe was voted best album of 2014 by the influential Piccadilly Records of Manchester. Coincidently their number 3 album of the year was by tonight’s support act, Horsebeach, an indie guitar band, also from Manchester. Horsebeach have obviously been listening to the Smiths and, particularly, to Johnny Marr’s guitar playing. Their jangly, melodic, twin-guitar sound is the thing that first hits you about them and they demonstrate a lot of guitar-prowess, particularly on a pleasing instrumental, which I think was ‘June’ from their eponymously-titled album. They finish with their new single ‘Disappear’, which also features a synth.

Jane Weaver, Manchester Deaf Institute, 21-3-15

The Silver Globe was a significant step-change in Jane Weaver’s songwriting. She moved away from the folky elements of her earlier work and embraced krautrock, Hawkwind, techno and electronic pop. The resulting musical mash-up is ambitious, dense and layered, with Weaver’s pure, breathy and very English-sounding voice soaring above. Her music also has a filmic quality and one parallel that I’ve not seen referred to before is the similarity with the floating vocals of ‘Twin Peaks’ siren Julee Cruise (music featured in the 1980s David Lynch TV drama series). Piccadilly Records describe The Silver Globe as “a concept album based on post-apocalyptic landscapes, but also a coming of age story, part cautionary tale and romantic paeon”. So there you have it. Basically it’s just great exhilarating music.

Clearly celebrity hasn’t quite got through to Jane Weaver yet, as she and the band quietly make adjustments to their gear on-stage before starting the gig. The tall cosmically-attired figure of Weaver on stage is nevertheless imposing. Her four man band are quite anonymous by comparison, but their skills are vital in bringing the music to life on stage tonight, with the set based on the album.

Jane Weaver, Manchester Deaf Institute, 21-3-15

Things really start to kick with the ballsy rendition of third song ‘The Electric Mountain’, an album highlight and a real synth-pop classic. It has a hooky synth sample that’s taken from a Hawkwind song, ‘Star Cannibal’ and it’s unbelievably catchy. Weaver introduces the band at this point, “in case I forget later”, she says. Then it’s into the dreamy ‘Arrows’ followed by forthcoming single from the album, ‘Don’t Take My Soul’, with its infectious bouncy, repetitive oompah bass-line. The song gets some whoops and the biggest cheer of the evening so far from the audience.

She introduces a new song, ”I Need A Connection”, for which she says she is still trying to remember the words. It’s an exclusive hearing for us, she says. The song looks like it’s coming out on a ‘De-Luxe’ version of ‘The Silver Globe’ at the end of this month. After performing most of the album, she announces the last song, ‘Your Time in This Life is Just Temporary’, after which she and the band bid farewell and leave the stage. Jane Weaver looks like she’s still learning about being in the limelight. There’s uncertainty about whether there will be an encore and people start leaving the hall, then the band come back on, but, it turns out that it’s just to dismantle the gear. The moment is a little awkward. But there’s no doubt that the encore issue is becoming increasingly difficult and clichéd at gigs and audiences and artists don’t always know how to deal with it.

Jane Weaver, Manchester Deaf Institute, 21-3-15

Jane Weaver is a rather special artist who seems to have invented something groundbreaking with The Silver Globe, something that comes over in her very personal and intimate performance at this small Manchester venue tonight. She still seems to be a well kept secret, but the word is spreading and it’s easy to see how this expansive music will soon be filling much larger venues, complete, of course, with the spectacular lightshow that it’s begging for.

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