On the 4th May 2011 indie-folk band Noah and The Whale made their first Leeds debut since the release of their new album ‘Last Night on Earth’. The album, which was released on the 7th March, is still in the top ten album charts in the UK and they have already had a massive hit with “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.”, which shot straight into the top ten of the UK singles chart and received fantastic ratings from NME.
As the lights to the student union dimmed, a mass crowd cheered and screamed as a piano pre-recorded interlude began for the five boys. Despite not being a sold out gig, the hundreds of fans screamed and shouted, representing what could easily be mistaken as a full sold out room. Opening their set with a song from their old album, “Give A Little Love”, the crowd began to sing and dance as the boys proved that they were ready to become everyone in Leeds’ favourite summer band once more, just like they did in 2008 with their first hit song “5 Years Time”.
Taking a look out in to the audience the lead singer, Charlie Fink, announces that Noah and The Whale were “incredibly excited to be in Leeds and can’t wait to continue the night”. The crowd erupts once again and the band launched straight in to “Just Me Before We Met”. The audience participation continued greatly throughout, with reams of energy moving around the venue.
Throughout their set, the London lads played many songs from both their new and old album. Many less known songs were also played and it was clear that some of the audience didn’t really know them very well, however the boys easily pulled this off by playing an array of more known hits, ranging from “Tonight’s The Kind Of Night” to an older favourite; “Rocks and Daggers”.
Something which obviously greatly impressed the audience was the amount of band/crowd interaction which occurred on stage. Whilst taking slight breathers between songs, the band seemed very keen to talk to the audience about “love songs” among various other topics. The band also were always informing the audience how their next few songs would either be “upbeat” or “slow”, allowing the audience to prepare for some “lighter waving” or even more dancing.
Easily the most definite highlight in the set for the audience was the arguably most well-known song; “5 Years Time”, in which the array of mixed aged fans were all moving along to the rhythm of the track and singing perfectly in time with the band themselves, although “5 Years Time” was not done as much justice as it was in the studio version with Laura Marling’s harmonies; it still pleased the crowd and kept the high standard Noah and the Whale were employing.
It seemed after “5 Years Time” the audience really came alive. For the final 6 songs of the set the audience seemed to be giving it their all when it came to singing and dancing. This obviously impressed the band who on stage looked as if they were having great fun too; smiling, laughing and joking around on stage with each other allowing the gig to have a calm, relaxing and fun feel about it.
Despite this reception, it has to be said that on entering the venue, some of the fans seemed to doubt the live performance Noah and The Whale would put on. With their quirky voices which are often linked to the likes of Mumford and Son and Bob Dylan and varied, yet unusual, choice of instruments; it was doubtful that the 5 piece could pull off the music just as they do in their studio albums. However, throughout the set it became more and more evident just how versatile the band actually are. Tom Hobden, especially put on an amazing instrumental performance switching from violin to guitar and piano.
Overall; Noah and the Whale gave an outstanding performance in Leeds and it was evident not only did their fans enjoy it, but the band did also. If their current UK tour is just a sampler for their performance at Reading and Leeds Festival this August bank holiday weekend, it seems with the crowd’s reception that this will be a long-awaited “summer spirited” performance!