“I’ve always believed that there’s an amazing number of things you can do through a rock ‘n’ roll song,” Lou Reed, who just this past week passed away, once told the journalist Kristine McKenna.
English band Noah and the Whale take that observation and run with it. I had the opportunity of seeing the band live last week, and the show — and their sound — was simple, as nearly every rock song is, yet cathartic and delightful. It mixes elements of Reed and his sixties and seventies peers with Springsteen and sprinkles on touches of indie-folk that’s flourished over the last decade. And the results are marvelous.
Their most popular song, “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N,” could just as easily be mistaken for a Tom Petty tune, but lead vocalist Charlie Finks’ lyricism and baritone voice and the strings work by band member Tom Hobden provide ample separation from the rock icon.
The band churns out catchy, infectious melodies intertwined with lyrics about hope, despair, nostalgia, love, and everything in between.
The set didn't need any fancy imagery or visual displays to place itself amongst one of my favorite live shows. Their cohesion and songwriting are that good. Highlights from the set included older tunes like "5 Years Time," "2 Atoms in a Molecule" and epic live tune "Give A Little Love." The set was punctuated by newer tunes like "Waiting for My Chance to Come" and the nolstagic "Lifetime," but it was the seven-plus-minute long "First Days of Spring" that stole the show as the band's final song during the encore performance.
If you weren’t able to catch them in the states, check out their latest record, Heart of Nowhere, which is a beautiful rumination on everything mentioned above.
Brandon Hook is the Web and Multimedia Associate at Sojourners.