Northside Festival, Day 1: Noah and the Whale

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Here, on its first day, we caught the Northside festival just as Noah and the Whale (NATW) where starting. After Mumford & Sons, who cancelled just a few days ago, NATW were among the high priorities (I’d be surprised if there hasn’t been a bit of rivalling between these two bands – not least if the rumour that Marcus Mumford “stole” the girlfriend of Charlie Fink is true). Since the Mumfords cancelled (maybe the claimed broken arm is due to Fink; or maybe self-inflicted by a fear of running into him at the festival?) only NATW were left standing on the stage of new British folk music.

During the concert it occurred to me that it’s the first time I’ve “followed” a band for a while and noticed a development – I’ve seen other bands several times as well, but never noticed a change like this. I caught them first time at The Roundhouse in London some years back after they had just released their second album, The First Days of Spring. Coming to the gig with an expectation of another album along the lines of Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, we experienced a moody concert to say the least (this was just after the girlfriend had left). Not a bad concert, but definitely not bursting with happiness. It took me a while to like this second album but it was since grown on me: as an exploration of the emotions following a breakup they certainly produced an album with good lyrics and mood, and tracks bound together in a way I doubt many of the current mainstream albums are.

The second time I saw them was last year at Cafe de la Dance in Paris where they had just released their third album, Last Night On Earth. I remember being a bit disappointed. Maybe it just didn’t evoke that much in me that particular day, but I also recall a feeling of indifference on their part. For this reason I did not have my hopes up too high for their performance at Northside.

Today, however, they did a good concert at Northside. I’m starting to doubt if they’ll ever put on a huge stage performance, but there was a blink in their eyes today, not least in Fink who jumped and danced around the stage a few times in his suit. Maybe, and this is solely my impression, The First Days of Spring have now completely passed and he is back enjoying the summer. Although they all (except that one old guy) look young, they certainly do a great job – I keep being surprised by how great a voice Fink has! As far as I could tell they only played a few songs from the back catalogue and otherwise stayed mostly at the third album. Maybe this helped form my impression that the past is behind them.

Oh, and I noticed that they play the telecaster – always a good sign.

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