Noah And The Whale @ o2 Academy, Leicester

Noah and the Whale at Leeds Festival 2011 by Shirlaine Forrest
Noah and the Whale at Leeds Festival 2011 by Shirlaine Forrest

Anna Hyams catches Twickenham folk fellas popping their Leicester cherry on a Autumnal Monday night.

As the usual crowd of mop haired boys and floral girls file into the O2 Academy for Twickenham dandies Noah & The Whale, an atmosphere of wistful, sun-baked festival summer fills the bitter Autumn air in Leicester.

Support act from Toronto, The Bahamas(7/10) up first, are not your standard rinky dink soft folk, with almost choral harmonies and snippets of rock here and there, and they receive a great reception from the full O2 Academy with the band thanking Leicester for ‘really listening’.

After an agonising wait, both because the band have never been to Leicester before and because they saunter leisurely onstage at the ripe old time of 9pm, Noah & The Whale (9/10) are all business as they begin their tales of woe, resplendent in immaculately tailored suits complete with waistcoats and signature foppish hair, standing atop a sea of Aladdin style flying carpets.

The first half of the show is a traumatic, romantic thesis on the failed relationship of Charlie Fink and folksy femme fatale (and previous band-mate) Laura Marling. Beautiful and melancholy ‘Just Me Before We Met’ and ‘Life Is Life’ produce a somewhat sedative effect in the crowd, a few more are coaxed into to singing along for ‘Give It All Back’ and  ‘Give a Little Love’ picks up the pace a little, while country-style violin dominated ‘Rocks and Daggers’ sparks some small jigs in the audience.

As the more well known songs are played out like ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Wild Thing’ the anticipation of the fan-favourites is growing. The sombre ‘Paradise Stars’ closes their self confessed romantic section, to make way for the ‘Goodtime Section’ straight into the soul uplifting epic ‘Tonight’s The Kind of Night’ and the upbeat ‘5 Years Time’ prompting a mass whistling effort for the song’s melody.

As the jackets and waistcoats come off and frontman Charlie Fink’s skiing style dance moves get more erratic, the band slowly play an intro that everyone knows, particularly the group of screaming teenage rah’s at the front, kitted out in matching flower headdresses. Though it must be noted that the average age of attendance at this gig is easily 25, and mostly male in presence, it seems Noah & The Whale speak to a wide audience with their lovelorn lyrics. As ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’ demonstrates with everyone dancing and singing as the band play themselves out.

After the shortest encore break known to man (they left by the back door of the stage one by one, to immediately file back in) the band return to a veritable roar from the unmoved crowd and proceed to play an odd couple of ending tracks ‘Old Joy’ and ‘First Day Of Spring’ leaving a somewhat soft close to the show having just managed to hype everyone up beforehand. To those in the know this has been a Noah & The Whale music journal, instead of the standard set of hits you might see at a festival, but for the people who came for the upbeat band they hear on the radio, it could be seen as a little too much glum to fun ratio for a Monday night.