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Noah and the Whale initially debuted with their first single, “5 Years Time,” in late 2007. Since then, they have released a total of four studio albums with their third, Last Night On Earth, reaching platinum status in the UK while their latest, this year’s Heart of Nowhere, looks to continue the success. This year has seen them tour extensively behind the album, kicking off in their native England and following it right into festival season that saw them play high-profile slots at Glastonbury, T In The Park, Pukkelpop, and Electric Picnic. More recently, they’ve been making their way across the United States and Canada with tonight’s show at the House of Blues being their penultimate performance before closing the tour at New York’s Irving Plaza. Today, they stopped by the WERS studios to play two songs, one new and one old, for our Live Music Week.
The first song they performed was “Lifetime”. They did a stripped down performance, only featuring singer Charlie Fink on acoustic guitar and vocals and Tom Hobden on the violin. Fink had recently stated that Heart of Nowhere was an album steeped in nostalgia; the lyrics are filled with allusions to adolescence and the eventual loss of it, a melancholy journey that accumulates in acceptance. “We grew up, drifted apart, now you’re getting married soon/While I’m waiting for my life starts,” Fink quietly sings over a muted guitar and gentle violin swoops. In essence, this song feels like it is the core of their direction on this album, not just because of the very literal title, but because of the sad chorus: “Are you ready to make that call? It’s gonna be a lifetime/It was only a few years ago, but it feels like a lifetime.”
Next, Fink and Hodben opted to play the biggest song off of their last album: “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” The song was a massive hit in their native land of England, nearly hitting the top 10 (it charted at #14), but cementing itself by selling nearly three-hundred thousand copies and, in the process, becoming the fifth highest selling rock single in the UK in 2011. The song has become somewhat of a festival anthem, prompting big singalongs whenever it is played. The version they did for WERS was a bit more subdued, the roar of the crowd not pushing them on, so the focus was more on the melody and performance. Much like “Lifetime,” “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” featured Fink softly singing while Hobden took a more virtuosic approach to his playing, weaving in nice violin fills during the verse. The song’s verses bears a passing resemblance to The Kink’s “Lola” but the catchy chorus that spells out the song title ensures that it will always be a big singalong.
Whats next for Noah and the Whale? As previously mentioned, their US tour is ending soon. After that, they will be briefly supporting Vampire Weekend in England before presumably settling down to write their next album. The prolific band don’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down, their artistic drive pushing them on to continue writing and touring.