Thursday, September 25th, 2008
Do What You Do
Photo by Frank Yang
English quartet Noah & The Whale rolled into the Horseshoe on Tuesday night for a free show, though given the moderate amount of buzz surrounding them and their just-released debut Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, they could have charged for tickets. Not a whole lot, but some. But the intention surrounding this tour appears to be to garner goodwill for the band and there’s not many better ways to do that than to leave some extra cash in the punter’s pocket for beer, a CD, a t-shirt, whatever.
Their support on this tour happened to be a local girl in the form of Lindi Ortega, so the hometown aspect of her performance was a nice bonus. Though she obviously had the voice and looks to pull off the full-on diva thing, she instead served it up with a pleasant Martha Wainwright-gone-boho/glam approach, and not nearly as over the top as she could have been. Her songs were pleasant if a bit slight and kept her set cheerful, charming and compact.
Though they’ve been happy to take whatever benefits being lumped in with the English anti-folk scene might offer, the “folk” appellation doesn’t really suit them as their live performance makes clear. They may still be plying their craft on fiddles and harmoniums but deep down, the kids just want to rock. But even the best of intentions can be sidetracked by unforseen circumstances and in this case, it was frontman Charlie Fink attempting to fight off a cold that made his normally nasal and groan-y vocals sound even moreso. As a result, Noah & The Whale’s introduction to Toronto started off a bit slow but gradually picked up steam as things progressed.
Louder and more ragged than one might expect given the shiny twee-ness of the recordings – hell, one new song they played was downright sombre – they evidenced some good energy considering Fink’s illness and got the audience involved with some crowd-baiting – encouraging singalongs, talking about how good Montreal was the night before, textbook stuff. Ortega was invited onstage to handle Laura Marling’s vocal parts from the album and though her mic wasn’t working for “Five Years Time”, she sounded quite good on “Rocks & Daggers” – not as ethereal as Marling, but her more powerful delivery also worked well. With a set clocking in at under an hour and a one-song encore showing off their punk rock side (taken from their A Sides side project), they were solid though not remarkable. Though you could attribute some of that to the illness, the truth is probably more along the lines of them simply not being one of those overwhelming live acts – they’ll show up, play their songs and crack some jokes but as long as their songs continue to be of the quality of those that make up Peaceful, that’ll be plenty.
Photos: Noah & The Whale, Lindi Ortega @ The Horseshoe – September 23, 2008
MP3: Noah & The Whale – “2 Bodies 1 Heart”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “Five Years Time”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “2 Bodies 1 Heart”
Video: Noah & The Whale – “Shape Of My Heart”
MySpace: Noah & The Whale
MySpace: Lindi Ortega
It’s been a good/bad week for concert cancellations. Though the blog entry from Land Of Talk hoped that the laryngitis Liz Powell finds herself afflicted with – I guess that makes them Land Of No Talk – would only claim a couple of shows, their tour dates now show all Ontario dates – including Saturday’s show at Lee’s Palace – as being cancelled. Making this week’s feature in eye considerably less timely, though the subhead stating that the band were “born under a bad sign” is eerily prescient.
Via the AV Club – Wilco are doing their best to country-rock the vote by offering a download of a live MP3 of themselves and Fleet Foxes covering Bob Dylan via The Band’s “I Shall Be Released” in Oregon last month to anyone who pledges to vote in the 2008 election. Of course, it doesn’t specify WHICH election or even check if you live somewhere that’s having an election this year, but that’s between you and your sense of democratic duty. Wilco are at the Air Canada Centre on December 4 and 5.
Matablog offers details on the forthcoming solo record from Carl Newman, who will take off his New Pornographer hat and replace it with his A.C. derby. Get Guilty will be released on January 20 of next year.
Smashing Pumpkins will be playing two completely different sets when they roll into Massey Hall on November 3 and 4. And since these dates are part of their 20th anniversary tour, there’ll hopefully be no pretending that they’re still a relevant artistic force and it’ll just be wall to wall Siamese Dream and Gish. One hopes. Dates and details at Pitchfork.