'Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences'

Jubilant delights; live review of @noahandthewhale at Manchester Apollo, 30.03.12

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LIVE REVIEW: Noah and the Whale at Manchester Apollo, Friday 30th March 2012.

The first said, “Who has been sitting on my chair?” The second, “Who has been eating off my plate?” The third, “Who has been taking some of my bread?” The fourth, “Who has been eating my vegetables?” The fifth, “Who has been using my fork?” The sixth, “Who has been cutting with my knife?” The seventh, “Who has been drinking out of my mug?” Then the first looked round and saw that there was a little hole on his bed, and he said, “Who has been getting into my bed?” The others came up and each called out, “Somebody has been lying in my bed too.”…And he called the others, who came running up, and they cried out with astonishment… “Oh, heavens! Oh, heavens!” cried they, “what a lovely child!” and they were so glad that they did not wake her up, but let her sleep on in the bed. And the seventh dwarf slept with his companions, one hour with each, and so got through the night. When it was morning (the child) awoke, and was frightened when she saw the seven dwarfs. But they were friendly and asked her what her name was. “My name is Snow-white,” she answered. ‘Little Snow-White ‘(Brothers Grimm, 1812)

Noah and the Whale’s final night of their 2012 UK tour took place at the Manchester Apollo last weekend, and it was a night of interpretations and representations; different interpretations of their three album back catalogue and big screen visual representations of love and heartbreak. The theme of the monochrome projection put me in mind of fairy tales throughout history, particularly those of the Brothers Grimm. The link between the band and the Brothers – neither shies away from describing love and its associated heartache in a straightforward, severe and sometimes savage fashion.  Before the editors and well-meaning mothers got their hands on such folklore tales as ‘Little Snow-white’ and ‘Rapunzel’, these stories didn’t always have a traditionally happy ending, indeed a main character often met their demise in a most disturbing fashion. Charlie Fink (lead singer and songwriter), I am pleased to report, is very much alive, well and able to re-tell his own tales of heartbreak; experiences which have led him on a path of artistic evolution as opposed to personal expiration.

Performing a total of eighteen tracks, the band entertained the animated and appreciative capacity audience with picks from their three hit albums, ‘Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down’ (2008), ‘The First Days of Spring’ (2009) and ‘Last Night on Earth’ (2011). The five-piece folk outfit emerged from behind the stage, which was cast in pastel blue and white skies; the perfect staging for such an atmospheric night. Kicking off with latest album track ‘Life is Life’, the band was welcomed to the stage with loud applause. A Noah show always attracts a varied age range of attendees, this is a feature of folk gigs that I most enjoy; the couples with young children who are getting their first taste of the joys of a live band, the late teens and early twenties who have recently caught the nu-folk bug, right through to the veritable veterans of the scene. Noah and the Whale is truly a band for all seasons. The upbeat, electric feel continued with the addictive ‘Give It All Back’, also from their latest album which has been certified platinum in the UK. What came next was particularly special for me; an indie-rock interpretation of debut album track ‘Give A Little Love’, which happens to be a personal favourite of mine.

Going back to the theme of love and heartbreak, of which Fink is truly a linguistic master; I was lucky enough to hear three of my favourite tracks performed with a fresh approach at the show. Fink manages to capture such intricate emotions in his lyrics, by setting them against the backdrop of everyday experiences and inanimate objects, after all, does love not affect every fibre of your being and reside in every object you encounter? I won’t attempt to outshine Fink’s wordsmith prowess; resistance would be futile. I will, however, share some of my particular favourite Fink-penned lyrics from all three albums: ‘Well if you are (what you love), and you do (what you love), I will always be the sun and moon to you. And if you share (with your heart), yeah, you give (with your heart), what you share with the world is what it keeps of you. ‘(‘Give A Little Love’). ‘There’s a hope in every new seed, and every flower that grows upon the earth. And though I love you, and you know that, well I no longer know what that’s worth.’(‘The First Days of Spring’). ‘Cause it’s hard to feel like, you’re worth something in this life, when you’re walking next to me, I can hear my body speak.’ (‘Waiting For My Chance to Come.’)

Other tracks performed from the band’s debut album included: ‘Rocks and Daggers’, ‘Shape of My Heart’, ‘5 Years Time’ and ‘Jocasta’, all of which were received warmly and to great applause, particularly the perfection that is ‘5 Years Time’, therein lies a track that I could never tire of. Second album tracks ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Our Window’, were performed with a more serene and sombre delivery, before the jubilant delights of ‘Love of an Orchestra.’ Tom Hobden (violin/keys) is one of my musical heroes and this particular track provides all the reasoning for such a proclamation. Hobden is an unassuming and dapper fellow, whose talents on the violin are a sight to behold; clearly a popular band member with the younger female contingent, if the screams were anything to go by. Fink said that it had been particularly special to be playing at the venue, as he had lived quite close by several years ago, perhaps a sentiment which inspired his next performance of ‘Old Joy.’ An artistic representation of a man and woman, where the man’s heart seemingly travelled up through his body and out of his mouth was rather striking. These images played on the projection screen whilst the band performed latest album track ‘Wild Thing.’ The woman’s ears then exploded upon hearing the news that the man had delivered and the explosion carried through to her brain. Very clever and almost impossible to divert your attention from; I’d like to discover the artist behind the images we were treated to that night.

The seamlessly suave Fink carried us through to the next track by stating that the night was special for three reasons: it was a Friday night, it was the last night of their tour and, ‘Tonight’s the Kind of Night.’ A little surprise came in the form of Heart cover, ‘Barracuda’; I’ve never heard the band perform a cover live before and this was particularly memorable. Crowd pleaser ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’ followed, before the band left and returned for their final number, ‘The First Days of Spring.’

And before long she opened her eyes, lifted up the lid of the coffin, sat up, and was once more alive. “Oh, heavens, where am I?” Snow-white cried. The King’s son, full of joy, said, “You are with me,” and told her what had happened, and said, “I love you more than everything in the world; come with me to my father’s palace, you shall be my wife.’ Now I can’t promise to revive the dead or to offer regality, but I can promise to love Fink and the boys more than every other folk band in the world, and we shall all live happily ever after.

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

April 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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