Writing and Photography by Bobby Talamine
Edited by Fiza Javid
Riviera Theatre Chicago - Saturday, March 11, 2023
Natalie Mering, known professionally as Weyes Blood, currently touring North America titled "In Holy Flux Tour", with a stop at the sold out Riviera Theater in Chicago.
And to sum up: I so needed this.
And when you see her enter stage left / audience right, adorned in her white floor length gown, similar to her album cover art for her latest release- "And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow"- the stage is set for tranquil / mellow, with artificial candles all along the floor of the stage, mostly stationed by instruments and microphone stands, and the stage is bathed in washes of yellow hues, like a brushstroke of delicate watercolors as the medium of art, played with of choice.
All of the above says lots in regards to where things are going performance wise, the overall feel of performing anything from "And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow"- finding our way together through the fraying and what seems like the continual dismantling of our social fabric and sense of all things community and harmony.
That in itself is deeply explored, with the opening song of the night and the tour as well - "It's Not Just Me, It's Everybody".
The song, as gentle as it is musically, envelops you in, with swells of orchestral strings, like ripples from a lake, pushing forth a gentle dream of gorgeousness, all the while gently communicating the fucked up nature of the human condition and current status of the state of the world and community, both locally and globally.
The line "We've all become strangers/ Even to ourselves"- speaks volumes, all songs setlist wise, and the keen observation that she's not the only one suffering through all of this.
The other aspect of this is none to positive, and of course easy to pursue, what with more angst on top of more angst. That's the easy way out- through welled up anger and crashing drums.
Why not make the attempt to convey such sorrowful observations through meditations and daily written reflections of inner self, just to make each day a bit more bearable?With an eye and an ear towards sophisticated melody?
That's the concept worth living through Natalie's eyes.
And song after song, she conveys it beautifully, like floating on a gentle lake, looking up at the night sky, observing stars and planets, and the faint light of the Milky Way.
Seven songs from "And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow" are presented throughout in similar fashion, such as the second song of the night- "Children of the Empire", along with "God Turn Me Into a Flower", "Grapevine", "A Given Thing", "Twin Flame", and "Hearts Aglow".
As for "Twin Flame" and "Hearts Aglow"- both songs were presented with Natalie's custom made glowing chest plate, which she wears under her dress, enhancing the full visual effect of focusing her energies into positiveness and good.
To do all of this, to allow for a perfect mix of ingrained in your brain moments, such as tossing a bouquet of flowers out into the crowd, occasionally dancing whimsically about, letting out smiles to bandmates and to the audience, and the occasional high kick, just shows the innocence of it all, embracing the Riviera Theatre into an intimate atmosphere of coming together as one.
The setlist- some 14 songs total embraces the theme throughout, that Natalie's own vision of the world, the state we're in and inevitably will continue to be in, that the end of the world without embracing the consequences , and the specifically atoned to the powerlessness of it all- that we shall intricately weave in delicateness and beauty, embrace rich melody, following our shared vision of the end of the world.
I know- it all sounds so sad and frightening.
Depending on age group- I don't know what to expect.
Me. I'm way into my sixties, having already seen lots and lots.
The younger generation, they have a big mantle of problems to attend to, long after I'm gone.
But things affect me on a daily basis equal to the younger generation, doing my best to navigate things somewhat unscathed.
But all of these Brian Wilson- esque arrangements have me slowing down a bit, the exact opposite of my heart racing.
I'll take Natalie's influences and any future songwriting as a symbol of hope and nourishment, relying now heavily on her back catalog for stuff that weighs me down.
Like personal journaling, which a lot of my friends do on a daily basis, writing down morning observations, deeply personal matters, current state of mind, doing your best to rid yourself (at least a little bit) of anxiety, to get through your day- Natlaie's back catalog from "The Outside Room" to the present day with "And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow" equally does the same for me.
That all of "And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow" seems to be written from a sacred space, and also a sacred place, and the main question permeating throughout - what does the heart of your soul sound like when coming from a place of true heartfelt questioning, not being uninhibited the least? What and how am I conveying heartfelt feelings in the here and now, like personal journaling?
I for one want to be immersed in that camp.
Like the brilliant novel from Cormac McCarthy - "The Road", and the painful journey of walking through a cataclysmic landscape destroyed by civilization, and all things don't end well, but come full circle towards the end, where even in the bleakest of times, some modicum of hope and trust still win in the end.
Getting there is the hard part.
And even though "The Road" is riveting and gut wrenching fiction, it still holds truths to our current state of affairs.
And in relation to Natalie Maring, on a softer scale, when envisioning ten years down the road, I sometimes find myself in an ecological nightmare, where I'm navigating to find like minded folk, to accentuate the positive.
Natalie's guideposts in songwriting holds some of this in for me sanity wise.
Apparently when this topic comes up amongst friends I'm not alone in this.
So for one night, I'm immersed in all things Natalie, and things are good.
Clearly going to be one of the best shows of the year, and its only mid March.
Cheers- and do your best to stay well everyone. We need you.
Bobby Talamine - JBTV Music Television Chicago
Natalie Mering, Weyes Blood, Riviera, Bobby Talamine, Fiza Javid, JBTV, JBTV Music Television