The St. James Hall — a small, spiritual community centre and non-profit organization based in the heart of Kitsilano — was filled with the scent of frankincense and myrrh when Weyes Blood emerged to the former church’s altar. Weyes Blood was preceded by the wispy Jackie Cohen, whose twangy opening performance suited the century year-old beams of wood detailed with cobwebs and dust. To close her set, Cohen announced her new album, Zagg, thanked the audience and exited the building out of the back door and onto the street, where she stood alongside the cigarette smokers and fashionably late attendees.
In front of a velvet canopy, the all-ages congregation stood in awe of Weyes Blood as the band emerged with a bow. Natalie Mering — undeniably cool in an all-white pantsuit — took center stage. Born in Santa Monica, California, Mering created the moniker Wise Blood at a young age, eventually changing the spelling from Weyes Bluhd to the current, Weyes Blood. Titanic Rising, her fourth studio album last month, is a masterpiece that is both complex and tranquil — a showcase in evoking musical nostalgia. Weyes Blood performed this richly textured and introspective album, layered with compelling and ethereal expressions, to an audience that grooved along hypnotically, as if transcending to another dimension. Mering’s voice soared; her poetic and poignant lyrics seduced and mesmerized.
Halfway through the set, Mering paused and said, “I almost didn’t make it to Canada today. I forgot my passport in Los Angeles. Thankfully, I found someone to fly to Seattle and deliver it to me.” She chuckled, “I promise, I’m never going to fail Canada again. But now, back to the stuff that I haven’t forgotten about.” She resurrected the songs “Used to Be,” “Do You Need My Love,” and “Seven Words” from her 2016 album, Front Row Seat to Earth. The energy vibed between the five-member Weyes Blood as little kids in tie-dye and polka-dot dresses hopped around the venue, older folks sat in the choir and intently listened while sipping water out of blue Dixie cups, and solo millennials stood before the spotlight stage with canvas bags slung over their shoulders, not afraid to brush up against the arm of a stranger in close proximity despite the beads of sweat accumulating from the warm room.
The flickering candles on stage glowed brighter as the night went on. After “Mirror Forever” from Titanic Rising, Weyes Blood jumped into a melodic cover of “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys — a moment that had the entire crowd singing along. For the encore, Mering graced the audience with “Bad Magic”, a somber and stunningly tragic song off of her 2014 album, The Innocents, because, she said, “I love a deep cut.”