Reserve is an unusual characteristic for performers, easily construed as aloofness or disinterest. With her cool demeanour and measured voice, The Weather Station’s Tamara Lindeman appeared to be in a private zone of her own. Songs were directed to an anonymous “you”, addressed by the Canadian with her eyes directed towards the back of the venue, at a point just above the audience’s heads. We were not the subject of that “you”.
Initially an actor, Lindeman began The Weather Station in the 2000s. Their first two albums were mainly acoustic, cast in the tradition of her great compatriot Joni Mitchell. The most recent, The Weather Station, takes a more band-like, alt-rock direction.
At Oslo in Hackney, Lindeman was joined by Ben Whiteley on bass, Erik Heestermans on drums and Will Kidman on lead guitar. The singer fingerpicked an electric guitar, apart from two acoustic numbers which she played almost solo. She made a point of introducing her bandmates, having been chided in a recent review for not doing so. There was an easy interaction between the foursome. Yet Lindeman also projected an intriguing degree of self-containment.
Opening number “Personal Eclipse” was about a car journey into Nebraska and California, undertaken through a heat-haze of slow guitar strums and rattlesnake cymbals. “Lately I find myself lonely,” Lindeman sang. “I wouldn’t have called it that before, I always took it as a comfort.” The words were uttered with clarity but their meaning was enigmatic, pointing to an untold place in the song’s past. They were the work of a highly impressive lyricist.
“Way It Is, Way It Could Be” distilled a moment standing with a companion at the edge of an icy river into a glimpse of paths taken and not taken, with drums and lead guitar assuming a psychedelic intensity. “Power” was a bluesy slow-burner about abandoning someone. Its quietly devastating finale was unluckily punctuated by Lindeman sneezing. But her voice had recovered from the cold that forced the cancellation of a show a few days previously.
In “Thirty” she upped the tempo with an urgent account of adulthood and ageing, accompanied by an incisive solo from Kidman. “Seems like you guys want to rock a little bit,” she remarked of the response, before reversing direction with a moody number about finding one’s place in the world, “Nobody”. The aura of reserve came from seriousness of intent, and also the ability to keep an audience on its toes, wondering what would come next.
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