Noah and the Whale
November 14, 2011
I was really hoping it would be awful so I could say you didn’t miss a thing. Or at least that it would be good, but not great so that I could just write up a non-committal indifferent review and we could avoid another arcade fire situation.
And I could quibble. There was quite a bit of seizure inducing strobe lighting, and (even worse) spotlights on the crowd (c’mon man, we prefer to stay under our rocks during the show) for which I think I still have a squint (I blame my blue eyes). And there was a slow spot in the middle of the show, termed the “romantic” portion of the show where I could have fallen asleep on my feet for a song or three. And I did leave before the encore because my back was killing me (although I could hear the crowd cheering for an encore all the way to the parking ramp).
But despite my best efforts at diversion and misdiretion, I just can’t do it. Beyond the unfairness to the band and the essential dishonesty, there’s just one little thing keeping me from being a good friend by making you feel better about missing the show.
The band was GREAT. Frightened Rabbit great. Fanfarlo great.
The band was super tight and lots of fun. Kind of too cool for school in a very 80’s sort of way, but they couldn't help themselves with their enjoyment. This was definitely a case of a band exceeding the (already really good) recorded performances. The arrangements were essentially the same, but the enthusiasm and energy put into the performance, and the very subtle emphasis on certain aspects of the instrumentation made a ton of difference. I particularly dug the violin (which is buried on the records), and the piano ( which was up in the mix on Blue Skies).
Charlie was a great front man, suited up (as was most of the band and even the sound guy) but willing to sweat it up a bit. I was frankly surprised by how appealing he was on stage. He seemed a little stiff and monotone at first, but I suppose that was just a pose (along with multiple other poses he displayed) because as the show progressed he really limbered up vocally and physically (especially once he shed the suitcoat) and danced up a storm. And like the FR show at Varsity, this was a crowd of true believers. Maybe a little on the sparse side (no fears of my claustrophobia to kick in…ok…I’m kidding, it’s really just my aversion to hair tossers and tall dudes who stand right in front of me) but a very enthusiastic crowd who definitely egged on the band with their cheers and applause. I wouldn’t have thought for a second that the Noah and the Whale show would almost get me to dance, sing and clap my hands above my head. But there you have it. (not that I was apt to join the hair dancers over by the 7th street entry entry.
The song selection was excellent. They played Last Night on Earth primarily with just a few (best) nods to Peaceful and Spring. Highlights for me were “Give It All Back” (my favorite from the new one), a surprisingly muscular “5 Years” (no trace of twee in this version), “Rocks and Daggers” (the violin really added texture here), and of course the main set closer, “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” Perhaps surprisingly though, the highlight of the show for me was a pair from Spring; “Love of an Orchestra” paired with “Blue Skies.” I LITERALLY got goose bumps. Lovely and joyous. Which I guess would pretty much sum up the show for me.
I predict we’ll see them (again and maybe again) before 5 year’s time.
(This review was created in Calibri type face although I’m not sure how much control I have over publishing fonts)