Stopping by Vancouver on a tour celebrating their fourth studio album titled Heart of Nowhere, Noah and the Whale not only proved that they are one of the best-dressed bands out there, but their live performance is one that cannot be missed. The alternative/folk group from Twickenham, London, United Kingdom had their name inspired by one of their favourite films, The Squid and the Whale, and the film’s director Noah Baumbach. With Charlie Fink (vocals, guitar), Tom Hobden (violin/keys), Matt Owens (bass guitar), Fred Abbot (guitar/keys), and Michael Petulla (drums), Noah and the Whale liberated every emotion out of a packed Vogue Theatre.
Having formed in 2006, the group has released four studio albums since 2008, including, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down, providing listeners with love-inspired verses; The First Days of Spring, which tends to the needs of the broken-hearted; Last Night on Earth, blanketed with optimism and the sense that anything is possible; and finally, Heart of Nowhere, an ode to growing up. The beauty of a band like Noah and the Whale is that no album of theirs is the same. This is a reflection of the musical talent that these five Englishmen reek of.
Spoiling the audience with an array of their songs, both new and old, everyone was captivated throughout the show. The audience became completely engaged with the quintet early on in the show during the performance of “Give a Little Love” from their debut album Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down. Hobden’s violin performance grabbed the audience and left everyone cheering with delight as voices from the crowd echoed, “Play it one more time!” Hobden’s epic fiddle prowess returned to the forefront in “Rocks and Daggers”, again, from their debut album. During “Still After All These Years”, both Owens and Abbott were given the spotlight for a guitar battle. Enthralling the crowd with ingenious displays on their guitars, providing cleverly crafted melodic solos, Fink announced to the crowd post-song, “Despite the rivalry, the only winner was music”. On the night of a famously rainy Vancouver day, Fink admitted during his mid-song banter, “The first thing I did [arriving in Vancouver] was buy an umbrella.”
With Fink’s poetic verses accompanied by rich arrangements, and smooth melodies, Noah and the Whale provided an anthem for every mood. From the pinnacle end of the spectrum with songs such as “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” and “Give It All Back” enriched with words and sounds of optimism and a sense of possibility, to the other end of the spectrum with heartache and despair painted with the song “Blue Skies”, which the first verse of the song being, “This is a song for anyone with a broken heart”. It was during the song “Old Joy” that Fink encouraged the crow to sing along to the chorus, being “Day by day old joy comes back to me”. To ease the bashfulness of the crowd, Fink chimed, “If you don’t know it [the song], you just gotta give it a little soul”. It was mid-song when Fink exclaimed “You guys are putting Seattle to shame”, which was met with exuberant cheers from the audience. The night was capped off with the perfect encore, being “The First Days of Spring”, the title song of their second album. It provided approximately eight minutes of an epic build-up to Hobden closing down the concert venue with beautifully enchanting melodies on his violin.
Noah and the Whale is a band that I will return to see live in a heartbeat. I fell into a trance-like state as I watched them with my mouth wide open. Leaving their show I felt as accomplished and satisfied as I feel when I finish reading a great novel. However, I didn’t want it to end.