With a bold, instrumental, full-length version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ announcing their arrival through the speakers, complete with choreographed light show, and all on a boat to boot, it was clear that Noah and the Whale were back touring with a bang.

The success from their most recent album, Last Night on Earth, has suddenly sparked the interest of many who previously believed they were a one hit wonder, thanks largely to their poppy number ‘Five Year’s Time’. Their latest single, ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’ has spent nine weeks in the charts to date and now seems odds on to becoming a festival anthem this summer.

While the tracks from Last Night on Earth were evidently well thought out and delivered with accomplished panache by the band, there was a sense that Charlie Fink et al were still growing into playing these new offerings live. Tracks from their first album, instead, proved to be many of the finest moments of the night. Songs such as ‘Give a Little Love’ and ‘Jocasta’ seemed to have been granted a new lease of life, while ‘Rocks and Daggers’ was an absolute triumph. All had been tweaked and played with, altered from their original to create tracks that made you forget for a second that you were on a tiny, stuffy, cramped little boat in a Bristol harbour.

What sets Noah and the Whale aside from most of the current Folk scene is their reliance on creative drumbeats, and even when playing live this is no exception. Coupled with fiddle playing, multi instrumental genius Tom Hobden, the band were able to change tone at a moments notice, from the soaring highs of ‘First Days of Spring’, to their melancholic new track ‘Old Joy’. ‘My Door is Always Open’, with Fink standing alone at the front of the stage, was likewise painfully beautiful to watch.

Noah and the Whale are playing at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham on the 17th May. If there are tickets left, it would be well worth the scramble to get one.

4/5

Ben McCabe

…Ben has been listening to: Walter Bottle: ‘Save Yourself’…

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