Sunday, 28 April 2013

Review of Noah and the Whale at the Palace Theatre, London on April 28, 2013

The first of a Month Of Sundays series of gigs for Noah at the Palace Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, appropriately the current home of the Singing in the Rain musical for the rest of the week.

And there was moaning in the light drizzle at the end of it - because it's the first gig I can remember where a band didn't play my favourite song.

They found time for an 8pm half-hour of stripped back break-up songs - come on, Charlie, get over her for goodness sake - resplendent with a string quartet that was irritatingly drowned out by  the too-loud drums.

They then left the stage and made way for the lowering of a cinema screen: the premiere of Charlie's self-directed half-hour movie, Heart of Nowhere, was imminent. Turned out to be the dystopian tale of a teenage band who escape from an island where everyone's brain was being wiped of rebellion before being allowed re-entry into the urban wasteland of decent society. Served mainly to confirm the suspicion that all scousers really are selfish, foul-mouthed bass players. Noah's actual bass player, Urby Whale, is fabulous - currently sporting a haircut in homage to Dougal from the Magic Roundabout.

Time, next, for a 15-minute interval and a £4.50 can of Fosters.

And then it was back to our seats for an all-guns blazing second half: lights, music and nearly some on-stage action from Charlie - the man with songs like Lou Reed, looks like a trans-Atlantic cross between Hugh Grant and Sigourney Weaver and a rockin-out sound like Tom Petty with fiddles.

Lots of decent new stuff mixed with some familiar album tracks. At 10.15pm we got the first of the songs were waiting for: Five Years Time, the guitar riff played by Fred Abbott, the Goodies-era Graeme Garden lookalike from 40 years time ago, the signature whistle by virtuosos violinist Tom Hobden drowned out by the drums.

And immediately afterwards the other one: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. It started with a commotion stage left, and gradually the stalls in the Victorian splendour were on their feet swaying and joining in: on our last night on earth, we looked to the sky, breathed in the air and were done with our lives.

We knew the curfew was 10.30pm but surely there was still time for my favourite. Foiled. They bowed and left the stage. Surely an encore. Yes - here we go.

But no - another one, still no sign of The Shape Of My Heart, the glorious, horn-parping stand-out track from their first and best album, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down.

So we trooped out into the drizzle, downcast and disappointed, like Jonah in the belly of the whale. Never leave your fans high and dry, Noah. Always send them out singing and dancing in the rain.

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