Noah and The Whale @ The Roundhouse, London 24/07/2011
July 25, 2011 by Kris Lavin
Noah and the Whale’s three albums are essentially a detailed record of Charlie Fink’s romantic past. The band’s primary creative force and lead singer, he was cocooned in the warmth and happiness of love when the first album was written and recorded, and good times were rolling for him and his friends. Sun sun sun! Fun fun fun! Love love love, they proclaimed! It’s clear that Fink was enamoured. Then the second album was released, and things had evidently gone awry. These songs were full of bitterness, sadness, loneliness, and eventually a determination to become a stronger, better person. Noah and the Whale’s third album, ‘Last Night on Earth’, is all about new beginnings, change, and ambition. If that’s not catharsis, I don’t know what is.
Clad in suits, the five notably suave looking members of Noah and the Whale strode onto the huge stage at The Roundhouse, oozing with new-found confidence. The dark days of ‘The First Days of Spring’ are behind them, and they burst into ‘Give A Little Love’, complete with a mini jam session at the end. Afterwards, a chirpy violin signals the beginning of ‘Just Me Before We Met’, a song about memories, good and bad, as if to dispel everything that has happened before to make way for the here and now. This seemed to be the central theme for the rest of the set, which was packed full of some of the band’s more upbeat numbers. There was a moment of respite from the cheeriness which arrived in the shape of ‘Wild Thing’, a comparatively more sombre song. Fink picked things up afterwards, saying “That was the abbreviated romantic part of our set. We feel like tonight you guys want to have a good time, and as do we.” before launching into ‘Rocks and Daggers’, which was much more in keeping with the overall tone of the performance.
The vast majority of songs were from the first and third albums, and favourites ’5 Years Time’ and ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.’ went down particularly well. Fink commanded the crowd to punch the air during the chorus of ‘Tonight’s The Kind of Night’, too, and everybody in the building happily followed orders, which turned out to be a pretty awesome spectacle. The band had no problem at all filling the spacious Roundhouse stage, either. Bassist Matt Owens was especially entertaining, galloping across the stage at every opportunity and generally looking like he was having a great time, and the whole band rocked out to an admirable extent during the last few chaotic minutes of the encore, ‘The First Days of Spring’.
Noah and the Whale have always been a very solid band, but now they have a sense of self-assuredness about them. And with their sharp looks, their natural stage presence, and the fact that their new material transfers brilliantly to a live setting, they have very good reason to feel that way.