Recap, photos & setlist: Noah & the Whale at the Bowery Ballroom, 3/21/11

I would gladly spend my last night on earth with Noah & the Whale. This smartly dressed British quintet, with not a wrinkle to be seen in their suits, played the first of two sold-out shows at the Bowery Ballroom tonight. The new album, Last Night on Earth, received perhaps the most powerful treatment, but the band played a smattering of songs from each of their previous studio albums. In addition to rousing, hand-clapping favorites like the upbeat “Five Years Time” and “Rocks and Daggers” — included spontaneously by Charlie after asking if the eager, adoring audience wanted to dance — the setlist included the thoughtful rendition of a slew of gloriously dark songs from the band’s sophomore breakup album, The First Days of Spring.

Noah & the Whale’s songs take on an extraordinary extra dimension in concert. The fullness and the richness of their song — whether on acoustic folk songs or rock songs on the electric guitar — is amplified a thousand times by the band’s enthusiasm. It’s easy to see on their faces that they love what they’re doing: even their bleakest, darkest songs like “I Have Nothing” have a purity and an elegance that sets them apart from broody emo ballads on the radio. Similarly, Noah & the Whale’s poppiest, most playful songs aren’t just throwaway songs: substance and masterful lyrics complement pure infectiousness. It’s what makes them worth seeing more than once. Noah & the Whale play the Bowery tomorrow (Tuesday) night. Good luck getting tickets.

The opening band, Luke Rathbone, consisted of a bunch of guys who kind of had hair like Bob Dylan and played accordingly. Their drummer made a valiant effort with a drum kit that wasn’t miked to anything.

View the full photoset here.

Noah & the Whale setlist

Blue Skies
Tonight’s the Kind of Night
Give a Little Love
Give it All Back
Love of an Orchestra
Life is Life
Just Me Before We Met
The Line
[false start] I Have Nothing
My Door is Always Open
Wild Thing
Rocks and Daggers
Shape of My Heart
Waiting for My Chance to Come
First Days of Spring

Old Joy
Five Years Time

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  1. Pingback: Photos, setlist & recap: Noah & the Whale at the Bowery Ballroom, 3/22/11 « Trust Me on This
  2. Pingback: Photos, review & setlist: Noah & the Whale at Irving Plaza, 6/18/11 (with Bahamas) « Trust Me on This: a music blog

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