PHOTOS BY NAVAKATOA TEKELA-PULE / LOGO BY EPHRAIM NYAHWA
Wondrous and awe-inspiring are the immediate feelings that describe what was an astounding Weyes Blood return show on May 29th at the Powerstation, Auckland. The In Holy Flux Tour had finally brought the return of Natalie Laura Mering (AKA Weyes Blood) to Aotearoa shores since last performing as part of the Auckland Arts Festival in 2020. It is to be noted too that Weyes’ last visit, pushing her amazing Titanic Rising album, was the final international tour run before the impending COVD-19 pandemic lockdowns began. Thus, her return almost seemed like reality finally coming full circle, particularly for Weyes Blood fans. It is quite fitting for this recount to say that at the time of the first lockdown, the general sentiment was that 'A Lot’s Gonna Change' - and a lot has changed. Three years on, our dilapidated post-pandemic spirits have been reinvigorated with Blood’s latest album And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow, a lush and hymnal record, rich in her lyrical and sonic majesty.
Needless to say, the excitement and eagerness to see Weyes Blood live was palpable, and for a turtle hermit such as myself, I could feel myself getting engrossed by the dreamy synergy of it all. Kicking off the cinema that was Monday night’s show was Aotearoa’s very own art-pop duo Clementine Valentine (FKA Purple Pilgrims). If there was ever an opening act that could so strongly set the tone and standard for what was to come of a night then Clementine Valentine for sure could do the job. Coming off of their first single 'Endless Night' since their renaming, sisters Clementine and Valentine Nixon brought an hypnotic and dreamy atmosphere that was iridescent, compelling and dramatic.
Lead vocalist Clementine put on a spellbinding display of vocal mastery that you couldn’t get enough of. It was sultry, awesomely operatic, and with harmonic partnership with sister Valentine, it was all too easy to be swayed into the intoxicating grungy dreamscape of the music. Clementine Valentine alone was a privilege to see live. Their music reminded me of many reminiscent bands that I could name, but I feel that even within the beauty of music’s diverse register of genre and sonic memories, you can only really get it by listening and seeing the real thing live. It was a perfect opener for the indie powerhouse to come.
Now to Weyes Blood. The stage was set with a wreath of candles and high anticipation. Then suddenly a warm light beamed centre stage to which Weyes and band then appeared to the hurrah of an enlivened crowd. Weyes, looking like the sorcerer supreme final form of Sailor Moon, stood ever so gracefully before the audience, soaking it all in before the rising strings of 'It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody' commenced what would be an absolute movie of a musical showcase.
It was so whimsically endearing and welcoming, with Weyes prancing and twirling in the candle-lit seance of magical song. Weyes Blood pulled no punches in starting the set with high energy performances of 'Children of the Empire' followed by 'A Lot’s Gonna Change'. As someone who has religiously listened to the opening track of 2019 album Titanic Rising, finally hearing it live was a religious experience and it is no exaggeration that already by the third song, I was in tears singing my heart out. She had The Powerstation enchanted, and the audience had now become her secular church of new age wonder.
With the whole venue under her spell, the next few songs took a calm, heavenly turn. starting with 'God Turn Me Into a Flower'. Weyes became the angelic light of the moment with powerful synthesiser strings and ambience lifting her into the realm of splendid serenade. Despite the room being in a momentary standstill, the music and feeling was anything but. Her vocals so effortlessly emanated with yearning and impact, one could not help but just admire.
It was the calm before liftoff as Weyes and band rocketed us into a wondrous performance of 'Andromeda', which was a personal highlight as the accompanying lead guitarist, who I might add was absolutely rocking the entire set, hit the slide guitar portions so compellingly — you couldn’t help but give a big ol’ stank face at how slick it was. After this point, Weyes had the crowd take part in an astrology poll and discourse on what even is real which was humorous and much needed relief after being in aural heaven for about 30 mins. This break wouldn’t last long though as we (and by we I mean me) would all be crying again at the powerfully moving performance of 'A Given Thing'. So enrapturing and unravelling was this song live, with peach hue lights cloaking Weyes; I couldn’t help but thank social anxiety for my decision to wear sunglasses indoors to hide the tears streaming down my face.
The mid-fin point of the set continued with 'Everyday', 'Wild Time' and 'Twin Flame' — more twirling twilight and high energy as Weyes spun colours across the stage, a light now centred on her chest, glowing rose in heartfelt harmony. This all set up would signal the impending close of the set with lights blacking out, breaths held, before an ocean light projection washes over the stage.
A fluvial arpeggio of calm transports us into 'Movies' and Weyes begins our odyssey to the end. We were now in her sojourn of blue rising wonder; a cavernous chorale of awesome voice. So lulled by Weyes’ vocals that when the synth strings and drums kick off, the sonic impact felt like a rocket taking off. Weyes whilst in her own world of dance and song casts white flowers into the audience to the delight and rejoice of the crowd. This was truly a movie-ending, full of drama, emotion and awe. Naturally, this was not the end as Weyes Blood and the band returned for two more songs to close the night — 'Something To Believe' and 'Picture Me Better'.
There are few artists who dare to conjure the joy, wonder, pain and strife of a love everlasting, yet Weyes does it so effortlessly, and this show was proof of that. It was uplifting, serene, magical, astounding and honestly, unreal. As we stood and departed in the darkness, everyone left with hearts aglow. Hearts aglow with something to believe in, to hope for. If not now, then soon.
Listen to Weyes Blood's latest album And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow below, and purchase it via the Flying Nun Record Shop HERE.