Live Review of Noah and the Whale at the Palace Theatre 28 April 2013

It's fair to say that a large amount of creativity has left the music industry. Write and record an album, play a few smaller shows, release the album, begin an overoptimistic tour and start again. It gets quite tedious, doesn't it?

Noah and the Whale

Luckily, there are still some bands out there who like to do things a little differently. Noah and the Whale are one of these bands. Perhaps best known for their song '5 Years Time', it's what they did next that set them apart from the pack. It would've been easy to follow up their debut album with another similar sounding record, but they embarked on releasing one of the greatest break-up albums of a generation. 'The First Days of Spring' was a big statement from Noah and the Whale, and one night spent in a Central London theatre was enough to prove they aren't done yet.

After six months away from the live arena, Noah and the Whale returned to headline the Palace Theatre the day before the release of new album 'Heart of Nowhere'. No pressure, guys. There was nothing normal about this gig; no support band, an all-seater venue, two Noah and the Whale sets and even a short film. More on that later.

They opened proceedings with a 'stripped back set', focusing heavily on their second album. 'I Have Nothing' and 'Blue Skies' demonstrated the much improved vocal range of Charlie Fink, and a new version of 'Tonight's the Kind of Night' managed to transform and improve an already brilliant song. Highlight of the opening set comes in the form of arguably Noah and the Whales best song 'The First Days of Spring', building up over 6 minutes and ending with a wall of noise travelling through the Palace Theatre. As far as songwriting goes, this takes some beating.

Before the main set, the audience is shown a short film, 'Heart of Nowhere', directed by Charlie Fink himself which was made to stand alongside the new album (released under the same name). It's a fascinating storyline with, as you'd expect, a fantastic soundtrack. What's most noticeable though is how much work must have gone into the project and how well their new songs sit alongside this film. It seems Charlie Fink will be a name associated with a lot more than just music in the coming years.

It's during the main Noah and the Whale set that we start to hear some of the new songs, and it becomes clear than the band have taken yet another step forward. 'Heart of Nowhere' (minus Anna Calvi, unfortunately) is a beautifully built song and 'Now is Exactly the Time' will be a mainstay in the Noah and the Whale setlist for years to come.

The older songs still feel fresh, as well. 'Love of an Orchestra' proves to be an unexpected highlight, and 'Give it all Up' again demonstrates the knack the band have of writing short, sharp epics.

Recent single 'There Will Come a Time' is a highlight from the new record, and manages to exceed expectations in a live environment. The powerful chorus drags some of the audience to their feet, before the combination of '5 Years Time' and 'L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N' ensure the whole theatre are on their feet.

It's clear that Noah and the Whale have no interest on resting on their laurels, and by doing so they are pushing out the boundaries of what's expected from a modern band. I, for one, can't wait for whatever comes next.

Harry Moore

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