This particular friday night I had a choice between 2 bands - one a new favourite (Noah and the Whale) and one an old favourite (My Drug Hell). As the title suggests, for better or worse I did actually manage to make my mind up 2 days before the event. It only took me 3 months - and there was reason for that too. You see, NATW (Noah and the Whale) recently released a pretty impressive debut album, but the exit of the amazing Laura Marling, and their growing cult status (especially with the younger generation) made me double take on whether they’d be worth seeing live. When compared with the dreamy (but less known) power pop of My Drug Hell, it was a tough decision.
This is not to say that I devalue My Drug Hell in anyway, their music will always have a certain charm to me, and I still wish to see them live (its just a pity they dont get out that much). If you dont know who they are, go check them out. They’ll grow on you.
Anyway. Having taken my seat, I was handed a programme. Odd, I thought, but none-the-less read it to discover this was going to be an interesting tableaux of Music and Short Films, presented by Future Shorts called ‘Club Silencio’, in homage to David Lynch, and the parody didnt end there - the presenter, was named Red Velvet (rather than blue), a phone kept ringing, conversations got weirder, and juxtaposition of shots just got more and more Lynch-ian. I enjoyed the shorts, and liked the idea, tho many people standing below got more and more impatient as the show progressed.
Finally, NATW made their way out, seamlessly segueing in from a backing video playing behind them, which was quite clever. It was clear quite quickly that these guys were quite dynamic and love their music, which was like chalk and cheese compared to the last show I saw (Ray Lamontagne) which left me wanting. I know these guys are often referred to as Twee pop (probably because of their quite saccharin pop tunes, and young audience - tho I prefer the term anti-folk), but they really played hard. This became more apparent as they played what must have been the majority of the new album. From my vantage point the audience seemed abit confused about the new music, and cheered loudly when something they new started. This was not suprising, as the new material was quite a departure from the old - the old was at times cynical and melancholic, the new was quite dark and tormented, and definately a break up album. This is not a bad thing at all, as it clearly shows off new depths of their songwriting capabilities, but it will be interesting to see how it goes down with the fans wanting something more bouncy.
From the sound engineer in me, I enjoyed the violin sound very much, it was warm and fitted perfectly with the other instruments - completely unlike the strangled cat that often appears when a violin takes the stage in a band. Each instrument was both well defined and contributed well to the overall sound. They’ve obviously got a good soundie!
I’m looking forward to their new album, and seeing them again in June! Heres a few tracks to whet your whistle:
EDIT: If you’d like to see some video from the night, try Winstons Zen blog entry.