Take one beach ball, a glorious Art Deco venue, a band whose name references a biblical character and a mammal and you’re set for a live version of a music request show.
Noah and the Whale played the Islington Assembly Hall to bring the curtain down on their busy year of touring and promotion, for their 4th album ‘Heart of Nowhere’. It was an evening of high celebration but there was also a little melancholy as the band put to bed an album that, while critically acclaimed, was a also a real labour of love. That all said and done, the band were not about to disapear without one final hurrah!
Once the first 8 tracks from the set-list were finished the audience were requested to select the remainder on the evening’s music, a brave decision indeed considering the wealth of material available from the bands back catalogue. A beach ball was tossed, thumped and kicked about and whoever caught it was asked to select their choice of track. It was quite a brilliant move from the South West London band, as we were then in turn treated to rarities, hits and a couple of unexpected selections. A logistical nightmare for set-list websites all over the world and a terrifying experience for us journalists, who stood at the back of the venue nervously hoping the ball would stay with the real fans in the first few rows.
It was 80 minutes of fun and glorious music. Again, this wonderful venue brought out the best in a band, as Noah and the Whale took each request and performed it effortlessly. Both the band and the Assembly Hall complimented each other perfectly. The venue is fast becoming an integral part of the London music scene, and rightfully so.
There were real gems played out. ‘2 Bodies 1 Heart’ was excellent and anyone jaded from their day at work was soon shaken from their slumber. And if there was any doubt in the group’s intent to entertain then ‘Rocks and Daggers’ took their performance to another level. The highlight came in the form of ‘Old Joy’, from the 2011 album ‘Last Night on Earth’. Audience participation was encouraged and the result was a dose of Noah and the Whale karaoke.
This was my first Noah and the Whale gig and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate in seeing them again. The gig was a real show-case for some great tunes and within the first few minutes you realised you were seeing a set of extremely talented musicians. Incredibly, the band still offered a vibrancy you may have expected at the beginning of the year when the album was fresh.
Also, a special mention should go out for the staff at the Islington Assembly Hall. I can’t remember visiting a venue where door, bar and cloakroom staff smiled and interacted with the customer so much, a real credit to the organisation.