Noah and the Whale

Date: 7th May
Venue: Sheffield Leadmill
Rating: ***

From the moment the band first walk on stage, it is obvious that this is Noah and the Whale Mark 2. Following the release of new album Last Night on Earth, which saw the band embracing synthesisers, showmanship, and stadium sized choruses, the five piece tonight are dressed in matching sharp suits and waistcoats. Gone are the ukuleles of the band’s first incarnation, to be replaced by big Gibsons and racks of keyboards.

However, this increase in ambition and bank balance is justified by the packed out venue. Vocalist Charlie Fink greets the crowd with a knowing grin, and keyboardist Tom Hobden cannot contain a smug look for the duration of the show. Accompanied by bassist Matt Owens’ hilarious sequence of Spinal Tap esque “rock stances”, the band power through cuts from their latest album, peaking with “Waiting For My Chance to Come”.

Unfortunately, the widescreen intent of the new tracks comes at the expense of what made them charming in the first place. Insisting on reinterpreting older tracks comes at their detriment, as songs lack all the endearing quality that initially sold them. When they allow their acoustic roots to shine the band are at their most impressive. It also doesn’t help that no new tracks hit the emotional intensities of “First Days of Spring”, the set’s highlight. Although there is merit in the band’s new direction, the nature of their songwriting eludes a one size fits all policy.