If you wanted to cosy up to someone new on Valentine’s Day, then this is the time and the concrete bunker that is the Heavenly Social the place.
Sweat beads bud on expectant faces as Weaver – statuesque in a floor-length dark blue evening gown, her long blonde hair framing some arresting rhinestone eye make-up – snakes through an impossibly miniscule, gear-and-band-strewn stage to her keyboard. “It’s years since I’ve been here – the last time I was trying to chat up a member of The Strokes,” she says, reaching the mic. “Me too!” quips a male band mate. Ice broken – or melted, as the singer-songwriter notes that conditions tonight have certainly put the ‘hot’ into ‘hot date’ – it’s showtime.
With seven albums under her belt and connections to Factory Records, DJ wizards David Holmes and Andy Votel, plus prog-fringe favourites Doves and Elbow, Weaver’s just come onto Prog’s radar, so we’ve a bit of catching up to do. But aside from mystic stomper The Fallen By Watch Bird, the fantastic lead track from her 2007 album of the same title, the set list is purely based around lauded latest album The Silver Globe. With unflappable drummer Brian Edwards tapping away behind the sound desk and FX scientist Raz Ullah, guitarist Matthew Grayson and bassist Dave Monck studiously absorbed, Argent starts with an infectious motorik shuffle, mutating into synth string-laden disco-prog to turn the heat up further. For The Electric Mountain, Weaver tries to move within the tight space she finds herself in, as a Tangs intro segues into a gorgeous deep space dance groove, thanks to a loop harvested from Hawkwind’s Star Cannibal. Weaver’s pristine folk tone never wavers, save for in-between numbers when her Liverpudlian lilt comes into play, especially cute when thanking her make-up artist for effectively moving vajazzle technology two and half foot up her body.
It all goes a bit cosmic Lyndsey De Paul for the chirpy 70s oompah of Don’t Take My Soul, then a couple of bags of rose-flavoured chocolates are passed around during the Roxy-like romantic Casio sashay of If Only We Could Be In Love.
The retro electronic funk of Air is channelled through Mission Desire, and the ‘love to love you baby’ theme continues as Weaver teeters at the edge of the stage to serenade us with the cosmic pop ballad, Cells, a superfan who’s been rooted there since the doors opened probably getting more than that close-up he’s dreamt of. There’s a eerie finish with Your Time In This Life Is Just Temporary – a sleepy waltz that’s part folk, part Americana, part sci-fi blues.
We hope this is the smallest show Weaver and co will be playing for a long while, but even impeded by physical constraints, her music still reaches for the stars.