Experimental Music Love

August 16, 2008

Noah and the Whale – Edinburgh, Cabaret Voltaire 15/08/08

I don't see any whales!

I don't see any whales!

The hour long wait after the supports finish is almost unbearable. And not for excitement around seeing the latest folk popsters (pop folkers?) that have got the Zane Lowe listeners nodding in approval. The tiny cavern of Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire is crammed with waistcoats and floppy hair, and the battle to not pass out from the heat during the odiously long delay is something few bands are worth persevering for.

And anyone who told you that Noah and The Whale were one of those special rare bands are as much in denial of the truth as any media student who thinks their degree is remotely worthwhile.

On record, their acoustic ditties are lively and infectious, even if their lyrics are tedious in their focus on the over-trodden subject of budding love. Their slower songs too have some sweet charm, reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian’s not quite genius moments. When seen live though, their flaws, covered up by numerous re-workings and production techniques in the studio, are all too apparent.

Their slower numbers relate only relate a weariness that’s hard to keep up an interest in. Lead singer, Charlie, is also exposed, with vocals that lack the special ability to grab attention when the music only strolls along. Mary is particularly subdued, as the rot sets in and, combined with the sauna effect of the venue, becomes an all too effective anaesthetic.

Things do come to life however towards the end of the gig when the band show they can actually do some sort of justice to their jauntier moments. 5 Years Time is as great a pop song as you’ll hear all year, and to create any version of it that is less than brilliant would be a near impossible task. Similar sentiments can be said of Rocks and Daggers, even if, again, Charlie’s voice is weaker than expected.

His front man skills aren’t too convincing either, as each song is introduced with a resigned self-effacement that gets old very quickly. And it’s always hard to connect too much with a band dressed so lavishly contrived as their trilbies and suits suggest they are.

They may be perfect playing on a sunny day outside to a picnicking crowd with plastic cups of moderately priced wine, but in the claustrophobic basement of the Cabaret Voltaire, Noah and the Whale just don’t cut it.



1 Comment »

  1. weird, I enjoyed their set in London opening for The Coral a couple of weeks ago.

    If you are into the band check Noah and the Whale on liveon35mm

    Comment by Valerio — August 17, 2008 @ 3:32 pm |Reply

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