The last time I saw The Noisettes, they were opening for TV On The Radio at The Fillmore in early 2007. They played a solid set of soul-inflected garage rock, similar to The Dirtbombs and The Detroit Cobras, only a touch noisier. They were also very shy on stage. They didn’t talk to the crowd, and stayed pretty reserved throughout the set. Two years, and several UK hits later, we have a completely re-identified band.
I walked in about halfway through the opening set, which was a band called Princeton. They played a brit-pop inspired indie rock, which they did quite well, but may have been a bit more appropriate opening for Jarvis Cocker, who was playing across town at the Fillmore.
The band went on promptly at 9 PM. Guitarist Dan Smith and drummer Jamie Morrison came on stage, with some extra help from a back-up singer and the guitar tech on bass. They opened the set with the first single, “Wild Young Hearts,” off the new record of the same title. (Due out in America on September 22nd, although it’s been available in Europe since April.) Vocalist Shingai Shoniwa began singing the song from backstage, and moved on stage very slowly, and the performance had kind of had a bit of a slow burn to it before easing into the Motown girl group feel of the studio version of the track.
Shingai has the kind of captivating stage presence that only a small number of people can obtain. She has the athleticism of Gwen Stefani combined with the smoldering sexuality of Michelle Pfieffer in Fabulous Baker Boys. Her voice, which has always been incredibly strong, was even more dynamic than ever on this night.
Despite the fact the Ms. Shoniwa is the definitive frontperson, drummer Jamie Morrison is the glue holding the band together. The new songs are a lot more varied than the tracks of the first album, requiring a drummer that can switch up the rhythm at the drop of a hat, and he held up his end. He did classic soul, he did gospel, he did disco, he did punk, he did 70’s metal, and played it all with ease. He is Clyde Stubblefield, Questlove, and Keith Moon all wrapped in to one giant rhythm machine.
The set was an even distribution of tracks from the new record and 2007’s garage rock revival classic, What’s The Time, Mr Wolf? The older songs were still aggressive, but they were played a little bit cleaner than on the record. Not to say they were calm, but they were smoothed out just enough to retain continuity.
The main set closed with the one hit they had stateside, “Sister Rosetta (Capture The Spirit),” which had the whole crowd dancing frantically, as the band ripped the song to shreds. The band took a brief break before the encore; when the band returned to the stage, they were without Shingai. They began playing “Atticus,” and after few moments, a spotlight appeared on the balcony where Shingai was seen hanging on to the railing, holding a microphone. She sang the whole song while seemingly holding on for dear life. She even spent the last verse upside down, with her only support being her feet. Some helpful patrons of the show helped her down, and they then ended the set with a rocked-out version of the T. Rex song “Children Of The Revolution.” The audience wished for more, but the band was done, not able to be coaxed into another encore.
In whole, it was a solid performance that was full of surprises, and if the momentum keeps up and word of mouth continues, upon their return in November they are ready for a much larger venue.
Here’s the set list: