Stepping into a crowded venue waiting for the band to come on stage sends shivers down my spine and this night was no exception. Though aware of their work I had never had the chance of seeing Noah and The Whale live and they did not disappoint. The 5 men dressed in complimenting grey and black suits came on stage promptly and didn’t waste time getting started on their set. Charlie Fink’s soothing voice and stature commanded attention of all in the room from the moment he opened his mouth.
The set up of the stage remained plain for the first few songs with a simple, black backdrop. Perhaps this was to focus our attention on the band from the start who opened with Give A Little Love. As they moved through the first few songs into Blue Skies, colours seemed to emanate onto the back screen which twinned the ambient background with the hypnotic, ethereal sounds of the gently keyboard melody repeated throughout the song, gradually building.
I was fortunate enough to have a great view of the stage and of the rest of the venue which appeared to be a sea of heads with barely an empty seat in the house.
It wasn’t until Tonight’s The Kind of Night that I became aware of the likeness of Fink’s voice to that of Ian Curtis (Joy Division), the deep, soulful crooning that took over his whole body. Fink on the other hand presented a more inward approach to the style, though as the set went on his body became more involved in the music as if he suddenly let go. It was clear that this song was a favourite with the crowd as it took little encouragement from the band to join in with fist punching their way through the chorus. It was hard to resist the pull.
Wild Thing was one of the songs I really listened to. It had me on the edge of my seat waiting for the peak as the band moved through the sections with the drum beat driving the music forward. With the name I assumed it would be a raucous song and more uplifting but it maintained its pace and became an incredibly sexy number. It appeared to be the turning point in the set as we were told after that the “romantic part of the set” had concluded and now it was on to “the party section” which started with Rocks and Daggers.
Here, Tom Hobden struck me like no other with his playing of the fiddle. His part in the music turned great songs into compositional works of art that were simply beautiful, particularly here and in the finale after the encore First Days of Spring. Here the fiddle pierced through all the other instruments on stage even with the increasing movement of the song. As one of their old tracks and one that is close to Fink’s heart, there was plenty of emotion surging through not only the band but the crowd too. The words bounced of all the walls echoing of a broken heart and hope of an old love. During this song there were images of a brick wall on the screens surrounding the venue that reminded me of sharks circling their prey; the show was closing down and this was the climax.
The iTunes festival this year lived up to its reputation and presented some top bands to the public at The Roundhouse in Camden. Noah and The Whale have cemented their place amongst them with their new album Last Night on Earth and with this energy fuelled performance.