sat 20/07/2024

The Weather Station, Scala review - communion achieved against the odds | reviews, news & interviews

The Weather Station, Scala review - communion achieved against the odds

The Weather Station, Scala review - communion achieved against the odds

An evening of potency and vivacity from Tamara Lindeman and Co

The Weather Station’s Tamara Lindeman: focussed© Natasha Lloyd / @natashalloydphotography

Acknowledging the contrast between personal and public situations, The Weather Station’s Tamara Lindeman says “I have a lot of songs about not being heard, yet I’m holding this microphone.” An individual’s voice can be ignored, but if it’s given a context which enables reaching out – it may be heard.

The Weather Station’s February 2021 album, the pointedly titled Ignorance, framed her concerns about climate change and its horrifying effects as a broken relationship. It can be read as form of break-up album. However, the fissure examined is between humanity and the world hosting it. At the Scala, she also acknowledges that she “feels too much.” The message is being heard.

On record, without these observations, Ignorance doesn’t necessarily need any interpretive digging as it’s so assured. There’s its trip-hop textures, nods to Rumours and Tango In The Night Fleetwood Mac and the immediate melodies. Lindeman’s close-miked voice instantly captivates.

In the live setting and in the studio, The Weather Station is a band. Here, though, is the task of reinventing the precisely arranged and deftly textured Ignorance. Without the strings, this could have been a bare-bones exercise. Instead it conjures up an alternate perspective on the album. Two-thirds of the hour-long set drew from the album. Further musical intimations surfaced: Roxy Music’s “Avalon,” the chug of the early Cars, a hint of “Boys of Summer” Don Henley. Underneath it all, Lindeman’s roots as a folk-influenced singer-songwriter shine through. “You and I” – the first song where she strapped on a guitar – had the textures of third album Velvet Underground and a Rain Parade/Neil Young vibe. Nonetheless it was easy to hear it as acoustic-only. For the encore this was met head-on when Lindeman sat at the keyboards and played “To Talk About,” trading vocal lines with the instrument-free guitarist Will Kidman.

Lindeman has worked as an actor for cinema and TV, and first showcased her music in Toronto’s folk clubs. Ignorance is The Weather Station’s fifth studio album. There’s a lot to draw from, and the shift from what’s often categorised as folk to where the music is now is a marked step change.

This was clear from the off at the Scala. Lindeman arrives on stage bobbing, ducking, kneeling as if in supplication. Hand movements were choppy. Between-song chat was limited. Although there were no grand gestures, this was about impact. In the main and despite “Better Now’s” power chords, Evan Cartwright’s drums, Kidman’s guitar and Ben Whiteley’s bass were about moving it along. Johnny Spence’s keyboards and Karen Ng’s doubling of clarinet and sax were (mostly) about filling it out and texture. It was more tough than the recent How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars album.

Even so, the Scala was the wrong venue. Hard-surfaced and angular, it has no warmth and works fine with electronic and dance music. Something as multi-layered and emotive as The Weather Station is not a great fit. Communion is hard to achieve here. The Union Chapel would have worked – and, indeed, on walking out posters were seen for a show booked there for later in the year. In a full-face demonstration of the Scala’s lack of appropriateness, a few members of staff began mending a stage-front barrier during “Way it Could be” and into the next, almost solo, song. Did this really have to be done? It’s not as if the audience was going to rush the stage. Yet there they were with torches, audibly joshing with each other and clanking a metal stage-side barrier in a display of thoughtless disrespect for the performer, and for the audience.

Throughout, the band played on. Against the odds communion was achieved. People went bonkers to Ignorance’s “Tried to Tell You.” That’s a tribute to the focus of Lindeman and The Weather Station, and also to the potency and vivacity of the songs. All the same, let’s have another round – at a more sympathetic venue.


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