Yesterday my friend and I went to a Noah and the Whale concert at the Fillmore in SF. The timing of the concert was absolutely perfect. On their end, their latest album was released five months ago in early May. That gave people enough time to listen to the new album and fall in love with it. A concert too close to the album release date runs the risk of the audience being clueless and slightly bored. On my end, I had just gotten back into their music at the end of summer. Since tickets can be released several months before the concert, often I will buy the ticket so far in advance that by the time the concert rolled around I had moved on to other bands. But not this time!
I have to say, it was probably my all-time favorite smaller-venue concert. Reasons:
- We got to sit down and still had an amazing view, since we got to the venue early enough to stake out seats at the edge of the balcony. We probably could have been right up front on the floor, but that would have meant standing for three hours. Also a good experience, but potentially painful. Also, we could see the whole crowd from the balcony, which turned out to be useful sometimes (see below).
- Also, the band passed right behind us to get backstage. I didn’t see, but my friend noticed that “like six guys in suits just went through that door there.”
- The Fillmore gives out free apples, and mine was delicious.
- The opener was pretty good, and had a relatively short 5-6 song set.
- Charlie Fink is a fantastically fluid indie-British dancer. He also played the acoustic and electric guitars (and bass guitar at one point, if I recognized it right) but I liked it best when he was just singing and dancing.
- The whole band was just wonderfully British, from Charlie’s skinny suit to Matt Owens’ waistcoat and porkpie hat. Also, their British accents.
- Tom Hobden is epic on the violin.
- I like lead singers with unique voices, even more so than singers with traditionally “pretty” voices. That’s why Nate Ruess of fun. and Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons are two of my favorite lead singers. Charlie Fink does not disappoint in this respect. And he’s in tune! I love it when singers are in tune!
- I knew and liked almost all the songs they played, and they played most of my favorite songs. I’d have liked to hear “Jocasta” or “Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down” or “Silver and Gold,” but this was a pretty solid set.
- There was relatively little inter-song commentary, which was good and bad. There was more time for songs but less time hearing them talk to us.
- Occasionally someone in the crowd would order a drink, and it was amusing and enthralling to watch the waitress bounce to the music while wending her way through the thick crowd, balancing the glass on a tray over her head. The tray also held a small blue light, the function of which I have no idea.
- A guy in the crowd proposed to his girlfriend during 5 Years Time, which was adorable.
It was a skosh too loud, but that’s okay.
Here is the setlist, adapted from my poor memory and the Vancouver show on 9/28 because I didn’t write this stuff down. It is more or less in order.
- Tonight’s the Kind of Night
- Heart of Nowhere
- Waiting for My Chance to Come
- The First Day of Spring
- Give It All Back
- Give A Little Love
- Blue Skies
- Old Joy
- There Will Come A Time
- 2 Atoms in a Molecule
- Shape of My Heart
- Rocks and Daggers
- Instrumental I
- Love of an Orchestra
- 5 Years Time
- Crazy Love (Van Morrison cover)
Such a good concert.