Noah And The Whale - Cambridge Junction
Ever since seeing Noah And The Whale at Latitude, rarely a week has gone by without me listening at least once to their stunning debut album, so my expectations for their gig were very high. However I pretty much knew from the minute I heard their cover of The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows that I was going to love the gig, and that was just the music they came on stage to. Perhaps a bit of an overstatement, but I always admire a band that choose a song that most other bands would cross the other side of the road to avoid as an opener.
Most of the tracks on Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down are on display tonight (ironically one of the missing ones is the title track) and as brilliant as the band sound on record, they sound even more stunning live. Part of this is down to the band showing some creative freedom with the original versions, giving some songs like Jocasta powerful boosts and extended violin solo sections, while stripping some tracks down to their bare essentials. This is particularly effective with Second Lover which sounds absolutely beautiful tonight as the vocals really shine through, even making you feel sorry for the morally dubious protagonist of the song as he laments over his lover going back to her boyfriend every night.
The band delight the more well-informed members of the crowd (ie the ones who haven’t just listened to Five Years Time) by performing one of their earlier tracks Beating midway through the set. I’ve always found it strange that it never found its way onto their debut album as it really is one of their finest moments with its catchy hooks, interchangeable tempo and just all round bounceability (I know that’s not a word but, damn it, it should be…who’s with me?!) They even find the time to showcase what they’ve been getting up to since their debut album with new track Stranger with the lyrics hinting at a possible darker tone to their second album, whilst still retaining their folk charms.
Of course the biggest reaction of the night is reserved for the intro to their breakthrough hit Five Years Time and yet it’s from this song that I realised just what was missing from the gig – the audience. I had originally put it down to a lack of knowledge of their album, but even this song didn’t get the crowd bouncing along like it should have, instead the vast majority just stood there like they were doing a life-like version of Stonehenge. An active audience does not make a good gig, but it certainly helps add to the overall atmosphere and memories of it, and I just can’t help but feel that the band didn’t get the appreciation they deserved for their flawless performance.
It was as if the band noticed this as well because for set closer 2 Bodies, 1 Heart, they decided to encourage the crowd to sing along by teaching them the chorus (as again it wasn’t on the album). This certainly seemed to jolt the crowd into action and they redeemed themselves slightly by singing the chorus back to the band as loud as they could. However most of them seemed to disappear before the band re-emerged for their encore of new song First Days Of Spring so reaction for that was mostly muted, despite the fact that it is an ace track showcasing the band’s heavier side, well as heavy as you can get with an acoustic guitar and violin.
So overall a flawless 10/10 for Noah And The Whale’s performance and for my personal enjoyment, it’s just a bit unfortunate that the crowd couldn’t muster the excitement that would have made it a perfect gig.