“So this is the last night of the Last Night On Earth Tour,” sighed Charlie Fink, coming to the end of what must have been a gruelling few weeks. Nevertheless, the final stop on their travels found Noah And The Whale in high spirits, still energetic and arresting, delivering a memorable evening of folk rock.
The lights rose like a dawn breaking on Give A Little Love, judiciously designed to add dynamism and allure to the almost static Fink, while Tom Hobden’s beautiful vibrato helped the fiddle soar across the guitar.
It is no secret that the last album was an often bleak breakup record, and the new tour was a statement of intent from the band, not to mention a personal point of honour for Fink, proving that there is life beyond the departure of Laura Marling. At times, Fink seemed uncertain, with a slight false start on new track Give It All Back not helping matters. Yet his bandmates propelled things along, thundering drums rolling through the now-iconic piano chords of Blue Skies, while Matt Owens bumbled away happily on bass in the corner, a real joy to watch.
Indeed, by the time Love Of An Orchestra swung by, the band had just about crossed the threshold, with Fink literally shaking with enthusiasm. Musically, the main criticism is a minor one: during the sparser sections, togetherness was an issue – Jocasta, for instance, taking a verse to settle down, slight discrepancies between the instruments splitting the song into four.
Yet no one present was willing to quibble as the astutely-planned set ratcheted up to its climax. As Waiting For My Chance To Come began, the wave of recognition rippling across the Junction stirred the crowd, as did an intriguing Marling-less adaption of 5 Years Time (though sadly the band didn’t seem willing to indulge the audience by extending this number, whittling their former signature anthem down to a three minute album track). Tonight’s The Kind Of Night and L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N, though, were nothing short of massive. Fink’s poise behind the mic captivated the audience, and the broad, sing-along choruses helped the band break out of the Junction’s black box of a stage.
This was a memorable evening with a band who deservedly finds itself at the pinnacle of the indie-folk scene. With a number of festival dates booked (including Glastonbury), this summer should be a good one for them. And while at times Fink didn’t seem like he quite believed it, this tour has proved that for Noah And The Whale, life really does go on.