Getting tickets for Noah and The Whale, I thought their sound was pretty inoffensive folk rock and would be a nice way to finish off the weekend as the gig was on a Sunday (May 8th). Despite good reviews of their Whelan’s show, five weeks prior, I wasn’t expecting too much.
Exlovers had the job of warming up the growing audience with their brand of shoegaze pop. The London quintet seemed to have a little bit of an off night, admitting that they felt weezy after their ferry ride over. Long gaps between songs for tuning meant that any momentum the band built up was gone within seconds.
They don’t have a bad sound though with nice male lead vocals backed up with a female harmony line. ‘Just a Silhouette’ just a good response but most memorable track of the night was the single ‘Blowing Kisses’. The deserve another look before passing judgement.
A very dapper looking Noah an The Whale come to the stage and open their set with ‘Give a Little Love’ which receives a great reaction from the audience. A quite loud reaction too.
What is immediately noticeable about the band is how bigger and full their live sound is, much more than on record. Noah and The Whale are a band to be seen live. Singer, Charlie Fink is interesting to look at onstage. When not playing his guitar, he points emphasizing lyrics making you believe ever word that comes from his lips.
A couple of songs in, the band really start showing off why they have grown in stature over the past year or eighteen months. ‘Give it all back’ shows them to have a big stage anthemnic sound. I was interested in how Noah and The Whale were going to adapt ‘Love of an Orchestra’, which on record has lots of string and vocal harmonies. Live, the song jumps to life, pounding drums and bass along with Tom Hobden’s violin kick both the song and the audience into overdrive. With each song, audience reaction builds up and they are the loudest these ears have heard in The Academy, which is strange and unusual given the dignified and refined nature of their music.
The band don’t say much in between tracks, they don’t have to. The pristine arrangements of their music in a live setting makes them one of the best live bands around. There are hills and troughs throughout the set but the band never lose the audience’s concentration. The downbeat ‘Wild Thing’ is followed by ‘Rocks and Daggers’ which send the audience into overdrive. All instrumentation eases down to just vocals and guitar. The crowd immediately clap in time and explode with the biggest cheer of the night.
Then come the ‘hits’, the fun loving ‘Five Years Time’ gets the Academy bouncing in time before the radio friendly ‘Tonight’s the night’ keeps up the momentum. At this stage everyone knows the lyrics to L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. and the band give the audience the opportunity to prove it, creating a wonderful vibe.
Next though, is a little treat for the Dublin audience who the band think are great. They never played ‘Mary’ together before and Charlie Fink apologizes in advance for ‘I might forget the lyrics’. Sure enough, the singer does and he gets cheered and clapped for his troubles.
It’s weird, you don’t expect much and get blown away. Noah and The Whale are well and truly on their way to becoming huge, it’s only taken three albums. Their radio sound may seem a tad safe but its live, hearing them, listening to the musicianship, feeling the atmosphere, that’s where they truly stand apart from the herd. Miss them at your peril.