Gig review; Jane Weaver at Hebden Bridge Trades Club

Jane Weaver. Picture: Rebecca Lupton
Jane Weaver. Picture: Rebecca Lupton
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It’s perhaps telling that Twisted Nerve and Finders Keepers label founder Andy Votel’s warm-up DJ set to tonight’s performance finishes with an awkward Far Eastern cover of Kraftwerk’s The Model.

After a number of quieter records, Weaver’s musical default setting since 2015’s superb The Silver Globe has ingested much of the output by Can, Neu! and further notables of the 70s German experimental music scene.

What makes Weaver float a thousand miles above lesser re-heaters of vintage Krautrock moves is her ability to weld muscular ‘motorik’ rhythms to substantial songwriting.

The outcome is simultaneously uncompromisingly experimental in its search for the ultimate hypnotic groove and effortlessly accessible: psychedelically frazzled, physical yet otherworldly pop music.

Tonight, Weaver – who occasionally plays guitar and synth but mainly gives her full focus to vocal duties – and her deadpan but deeply funky four-piece are on a mission to further beef up the robust rhythms that form the foundation of Weaver’s recent albums.

This year’s magnificent Modern Kosmology – which must have slipped off the Mercury shortlist purely by accident and seems to have thankfully made Weaver somewhat less underrated, judging by the fact that the Trades Club is another completely rammed venue on this largely sold-out tour – deservedly dominates tonight’s 90 minute set.

At first, Weaver and co. – performing in front of projections ranging from distorted self-portraits to blazing barrages of light formations – appear determined to keep the reins on their obvious exploratory potential: Did You See Butterflies? – one of Modern Kosmology’s many highlights, an ethereal yet throbbing gem with a soaring melody that’s the ideal medium for Weaver’s bruised but powerful voice – builds such a fearsome momentum that the band appear to be levitating, only to grind to a halt after a few all too brief minutes.

The aim of sticking close to the studio originals is probably to avoid the self-indulgent noodling that hovers over psychedelia and space rock-influenced output like a particularly pungent smell, but the unintended outcome is to clip the wings of the band’s full hypnotic potential.

Gradually, the band loosen up. The stuttering Don’t Take My Soul blooms into a decidedly ‘kosmische’ analogue synth workout, which nods towards various central European proto-electronica pioneers. The colossal, disco-hued groove of I Need a Connection is allowed to carry on uninterrupted until it builds enough steam to force even the most sozzled members of tonight’s enthusiastic if well-lubricated Friday night crowd to give their full and undivided attention to the wondrous sounds emitting from the stage.

Were there more such moments of controlled yet winningly untamed looseness, tonight’s set would be phenomenal. As it is, it consolidates Weaver’s standing as one of the most alluring musicians in circulation; a rare talent who manages to combine a firm grip on psychedelic disorientation with unmistakable potential for mass appeal.