Show Review: Noah and the Whale with Nikki Lane at Great American Music Hall, 11/21/11

by Marie Carney on November 27, 2011


Noah and the Whale


When I walked in to The Great American Music Hall the energy was already strong.  It was one of those fanatic crowds where, even though it wasn’t sold out, everyone was pushed up against the front of the stage. I have seen Noah and the Whale twice before, but never had there been people so excited to see then like there was at this show.  The energy was immediately infections and I stood impatiently with the rest of the crowd, pressing as close as I could to the stage.

As soon as opener Nikki Lane walked out on stage she drew in your attention.  She had a great look, part Zooey Deschannel-esque indie sweetheart, part tough ass hippie. Then when the music started it was a sweet country/folk sound with killer harmonies.  Nikki Lane’s voice is quite strong, commanding  and full of beauty and power.  Her songs sounded sweet but had a tough lyrical edge; all gorgeous harmonies and screw that lying asshole.  It was a lot of fun to listen to.

Nikki Lane

Though what really blew me away about Nikki Lane was her demeanor on stage.  She was so relaxed and great with stage banter you would have thought she has been touring for years, but this is her first tour.  There aren’t many acts I’ve seen that talk to the audience so well, though maybe it was her choice of quite personal and original information, like how she scared the drummer by driving the tour van through a redwood tree and about how it’s hard for a stoner to remember the setlist, that made it so unique and interesting.  The whole package of her music and her talk was so endearing it would have been sickeningly sweet if it wasn’t so good.

Noah and the Whale came on stage after an instrumental piece played to dramatic lights on the stage.  This made the beginning of the show more dreamy then intense energy, but once they picked up their instruments they went straight in to some of their more upbeat songs off their 2011 release Last Night on Earth. Actually, I’ve never seen a band play so many songs off their new album in a row, with five of the first six songs off the newest album.  In fact, they played Last Night on Earth in its entirety, which I can’t say is a bad thing as the album is so upbeat and fun that I wanted to hear the whole thing and was happy to sing along.

As far as the performance from the band itself, it was hardly without errors, but the charm of the songs overpowered anything negative I could possibly say.  Sure lead singer/guitarist Charlie Fink is occasionally flat and not so good with the between song banter, but he has a magnetic physical presence that takes up the whole stage almost rendering the rest of the band invisible.  If you do break away from Fink’s mesmerizing gaze, the band as the whole is an entertaining bunch to watch, especially bassist Matt Owens who sings and rocks out along with every song almost more like he’s a fanboy in the audience than actually in the band.  Then there is violinist/keyboardist Tom Hobden whose hair and skill are almost equally entrancing.

Charilie Fink of Noah and the Whale


All in all it was a great night of music, and honestly much better than I had expected based on the last two times I saw Noah and the Whale.  As much as I love to listen to their last album The First Days of Spring, the newer and more upbeat take on life and love on Last Night On Earth is great to keep a show moving.  Though really what is so great about watching Noah and the Whale now is that they can slide back and forth between the two so easily.  As Charlie Fink told us, there’s the romantic section of the show and the good times section.  And I am glad to get to listen and experience both when they are done so expertly.


Paradise Stars (as band enters)
Give a Little Love
Just Me Before We Met
Life is Life
Give it All Back
Shape of My Heart
Rocks and Daggers
Love of an Orchestra (instrumental in to full song)
Blue Skies
Wild Thing
The Line
Our Window
Tonight’s the Kind of Night
5 Year’s Time
Waiting for my Chance to Come


Oh Joy
The First Days of Spring

All photos by Dakin Hardwick

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