Noah and the Whale Perform ‘Atomic’ Show at House of Blues


OCTOBER 2- Unless you’re an avid Spotify listener, chances are you’ve never heard of Noah and the Whale, but if their Oct. 2 concert taught us anything it’s that us American’s are behind the times and their music needs to catch on stat.

The House of Blues Anaheim was filled with mostly young teenagers, all in anticipation to see the five guys of Noah and the Whale perform. As the background music and lights turned off, the half empty venue was filled with screams, and the band began the opening strings for “Tonight’s the Kind of Night” from their 2011 release, “The Last Night on Earth.”

Noah and the Whale has seen a few band member changes since their start in 2006, but is now made up of lead singer and guitarist Charlie Fink, Tom Hobden (violin and keys), Matt Owens (bass), Fred Abbott (guitar and keys) and Michael Petulla (drums). The band’s debut album “Peaceful, the World Lays me Down,” was released in 2008 and made it to number five on the UK Albums Chart. The band has seen little stateside success, especially in comparison to “similar” UK cross over bands, like Mumford and Sons.

Similar doesn’t really seem like a fair comparison since the music only compares on paper. Both bands are often called “folk” but Noah and the Whale’s genre varies from album to album (and in concert, from song to song), while still managing to keep a distinct sound that’s very Charlie Fink. Perhaps it’s his deep soulful voice singing about heartbreak and giving out life advice on top of catchy pop infused folk-esque music.

The average age of the audience was surprising: around 16. One of the first times Noah and the Whale made some splash in the US was when their song “Blue Skies” was featured in an episode of One Tree Hill in 2009. Perhaps they caught up on reruns of the show and discovered the band late. Nonetheless some of Noah’s newest music spoke to them as Fink wrote to his younger self, as you can see in the second song that was played “Heart of Nowhere.” The song begins with “Your parents hide, they live in fear. They’re lying restless, as the dawn comes near. But you want to live, you want to try. You hear a whisper of the world outside.”

The transition from “Heart of Nowhere” to the third song of the night, “Waiting for my Chance to Come,” showed just how much Noah and The Whale’s music varies. The former being more of a pop song, while the latter displaying a more country/folk side with the violin. And to add just a little more spunk, “There Will Come a Time” from their latest release, “Heart of Nowhere” showcased an indie alternative genre with a bit of an 80s feel mixed in.

The band, who has become a European music festival staple now, has unfortunately not managed to convince the US audience. Their setlist showcased mostly older songs that the American audiences may be more familiar with, including a song from their debut album called “2 Atoms in a Molecule,” which the band told the audience was rarely played before, until they discovered how well audiences responded. It’s a shame the venue wasn’t sold out so more people could experience the infectious tunes and energy showed through quirky footing from Charlie Fink. Fink’s intricate dance moves would have made him a shoe in for the Footloose remake … I kid I kid, but he probably would be a hit at 80s clubs. He was so animated it almost seemed like he was just dancing in front of a mirror in his bedroom, he made us want to dance.

The band was all smiles throughout the entire show, and shared endearing stories with the crowd, including a story about how someone had gotten engaged at a previous show. But really, any American would be enamored with their British accents. Before closing the night, the band performed one of their most well-known songs, “5 Years Time,” which had everyone clapping and dancing. To completely change the mood, the band came back for an encore of the sad ballad, “My Door is Always Open.”

Set List:
1. Tonight’s the Kind of Night
2. Heart of Nowhere
3. Waiting for My Chance
4. There Will Come a Time
5. Give It All Back
6. L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N

7. Give a Little Love
8. Blue Skies
9. First Days of Spring
10. Old Joy
11. 2 Atoms and a Molecule
12. Shape of My Heart
13. Rocks and Daggers
14. Love of an Orchestra
15. Still After all These Years
16. Lifetime
17. 5 Year Time

18. My Door is Always Open

Photography by Rosemary Vega.

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