Liverpool-born, but part of the same Manc milieu as Elbow and Badly Drawn Boy, Jane Weaver has not, until recently, commanded much of a national profile, concentrating instead on creating delicate but niche psych-folk records and running Bird Records, home to early works by the likes of Beth Jeans Houghton. But by latterly swapping the more overtly folk elements of her music for electronic whimsy, she’s found a new mojo. Mid-career, her stock has never been higher, hence this headline set on the cage-like Long Room stage at Hidden Door.
Stylistically, there’s nothing here that Stereolab weren’t doing twenty years ago, but sometimes simply doing things well is enough, and with tunes as good as some she has here, it’s easy to forgive a certain sonic deja vu. Don’t Take My Soul is an absolute peach, its twinkly slow march has the room swaying blissfully from side-to-side. Mission Desire is another belter, all 60s spaceyness and starry wonder, like Confide In Me era Kylie covering the theme from Star Trek.
Elsewhere in the set, Weaver pays the price for her minimal audience interaction and instead of lift-off, we get drift-off. Bashfulness and timidity might hold a rapt audience of her own fans, but it feels frosty and distant this evening in a festival crowd. There isn’t sufficient audience familiarity with the material to schlep from song-to-song with nary a word. She herself seems perturbed by sound and light issues as well, which although unapparent to the audience, are clearly distracting her.
These faults are a case of wrong time and place, however. Weaver’s star is in the ascendant and upcoming dates at Lost Map’s Howlin’ Fling on the Isle of Eigg and the Folk Forest at Sheffield’s Tramlines will be better settings to catch her.