Noah and The Whale’s show at Mercury last Friday was something of an unexpected miss. I don’t know why, but the breezy sound of Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down inexplicably shrunk live. It was hard to get a read on the situation–was the band disinterested, tired out from touring overseas, or just shy? They seemed comfortable at work together, but maybe the sharp eyes of onlookers, cocked like pistols, turned them a little stiff.
“Fives Years” was obviously going to be the hands-down crowd-pleaser, but even that didn’t really get things off the ground. I think what we saw was a work in progress. Noah feature all very good musicians, at their most dynamic when they stick to the softer melodies (a couple of songs with punkier undertones didn’t have as much reach), but they are still clearly feeling out their personalities as performers. It’s that or I was on a completely different wavelength.
On the positive side, Charlie Fink’s voice can really be grabbing, at times truly mournful, sounding like a deeper, hoarser James Skelly (of The Coral) on “Shape Of My Heart.” But there were moments when he seemed to lose focus, trail off, and mumble lines, then the song would end and leave a palpable void of awkwardness in its stead. From the back, somewhere a man yelled, “WAKE UP, FRONT ROW!” But if he felt that way, why wasn’t he up there already?
“Five Years” (Pre-Show at Virgin Megastore 9/19/08)