Noah & the Whale - V Festival Weston Park 2012 review
'Noah & the Whale just about stay afloat at V'
Will Saunders - 18 August 2012
Noah & the Whale played a timid early evening sundown set on Weston Park's 4 Music stage.
Working through their back catalogue of three distinct albums, each charting a different phase in frontman Charlie Fink's life and exploring genres from the wispy melancholy country of 'Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down' to the drivetime rock of 'Last Night on Earth', Noah & the Whale have earned the requisite stripes for a strong billing at V Festival 2012.
However, boosted up to second billing on the 4Music stage by Nicki Minaj's withdrawal, the first sign that this might not be plain sailing for NATW comes as they arrive on stage to an awkwardly small audience. The band, not renowned for their mid-set histrionics or energy, struggle to engage amidst the gaping green spaces in the crowd, and fail to win back many of the pop-hungry punters who have flocked to Tinie Tempah's parallel set on the main stage. Indeed, so seemingly ill at ease between songs is Fink, that he at times resembles Garth from 'Wayne's World', mumbling soft platitudes like "is everyone having a good time?" with the conviction and compassion of a man reading off an autocue.
Immaculately suited and booted, handsomely dressed to thrill and with foppish quiffs and matching Ray Bans to accessorise, NATW certainly look the part though as they battle gamely through the Catch 22 of 'slight and in enthused audience = low octane performance'.
Indeed, what's not open to question is the fact that Fink runs a tight musical ship, resulting in a pleasantly sonic experience for those who remain, with songs such as 'Give a Little Love' and 'Blue Skies' lushly laden with strings, keys and synths, simmering to the boil with brooding crescendos that loosely evoke the Arcade Fire.
Tracks like 'Give It All Back' and 'Tonight's the Night' stand alongside the big hitters of set closing boogie-along 'L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.' and the now datedly twee 'Five Years Time' in their own right, but NATW seem to have a deficit between their high register quality of musical craft, and the quantity of audience they can attract in a festival setting.
Perhaps it's a lack of character, big-stage nous or true pop-rock classics in their back catalogue, or even a combination of all three, and this set may have just been a case of 'wrong place at the right time', but NATW have a few hurdles to overcome if they want to gather the requisite affection and recognition for a full-on assault on the upper echelons of the rock-FM hit parade.
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