Jane Weaver: Loops in the Secret Society, Komedia, Thursday, 8 November 2018

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If not for the glitter, sparkly shoes and theatrical blue dress, you’d be forgiven for assuming Jane Weaver had wandered onto the stage as a sound technician, not the headline act, such is her down-to-earth aura.

The alt-kraut-synth-pop veteran of eight albums was performing at Komedia as part of her Loops in the Secret Society solo tour, reinterpreting songs from her breakthrough albums The Silver Globe and Modern Kosmology minus her band.

The set began with an instrumental track that layered looping dream pop vocals on trademark motorik rhythms, backed by an intergalactic visual backdrop which formed part of a looping visual collage created by filmmaker Nick Farrimond.

The pulsating bass, shimmering synth showers and Bontempi-in-overdrive rhythm of I Wish was a highlight, somehow recalling Donna Summer, Kate Bush and Neu! simultaneously.

But the Broadcast-esque The Lightning Back was the evening’s pinnacle, an anomaly in that the live solo iteration trumped the studio version with its killer melody, subtle beauty and raw intensity.

That said, Weaver is a frustratingly perfunctory performer, seemingly reluctant to deliver her songs with sufficient conviction.

The nature of the technical task at hand made for a slightly flat and repetitive rise-and-fall dynamic, and the absence of a band felt like a negative, as attention was drawn unavoidably towards a performer who didn’t seem entirely comfortable in the limelight – albeit one who was charming, likeable and supremely talented.

What’s more, the experimental solo set-up – while ragged and occasionally interesting – did not make for the compelling spectacle it promised, leaving you wondering if the show would’ve worked better as a conventional full-band performance.

As Weaver shuffled her lyric sheets and ambled between synthesisers and drums machines, it felt like watching someone at work. And there is a reason why most of us don’t do our day jobs in front of a live audience.

★★★

Originally published in The Argus.

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