The Music Box

{6 November, 2009}   Noah and the Whale (with Robert Francis and Essie Jain) at the Mercury Lounge (2009.11.03)

This past week Noah and the Whale was in New York to both premiere First Days of Spring, a film to accompany their second album, and to play three nights at the Mercury Lounge down on Houston. I had the chance to go see them on 03 November for one of these gigs, with so, so, so much thanks to Cherrytree Records.

I had never been to The Mercury Lounge, but I fell in love with it. It’s small with two rows of couches on either side. When it’s empty, it’s such an intimate venue, and when it’s packed you can’t breathe or move, but it still never feels too big or overbearing.

The opening act was Essie Jain, an incredibly charming young woman from England. She and her band are getting ready to put out a lullaby CD, and after hearing her voice for ten seconds, you can understand why it would be perfect. I actually would love to buy the CD when it eventually comes out. I don’t actually know her music that well, but I made a stab at the setlist. Please correct me if I’m wrong:

01. Up Until Then
02. The Truth
04. Afraid of the Dark
05. Stand in the Light
05. Love for You
06. Haze
07. ??? (Second Chance?)
08. Stop
09. ??? (Fall Into Sleep?)

During Robert Francis’ set, I actually left the stage area to find Andrea from Cherrytree Records to say “hi” and thank her. I caught a bit of the set, and it didn’t capture me the same way Essie Jain did. It felt to me as though he tried a little too hard to be emotional and artistic, if that makes sense. He does make good music, though, and no offense intended towards him.

John Norris of MTV was also at the show on Tuesday! I grew up watching him on MTV News, so I was a little stupidly giddy when he was pointed out to me. When we went back into the stage area for Noah and the Whale I wound up right next to him.

Noah and the Whale, though. I didn’t know too much about them going in other than really liking the few songs of theirs that I had heard, and knowing that the poor guys had their equipment stolen in England recently. Seeing them live is an experience, though. They’re one of those bands that you just close your eyes while they’re playing and just lose track of where you are, and what time it is. Charlie Fink is also a remarkably charming performer. He didn’t speak much during the set, excepting to apologize awkwardly into the microphone for, in fact, not speaking. He said he had nothing to say, so other than occasionally giving the name of a song or a brief explanation, he stayed with the music.

As a brief anecdote, the Mercury Lounge doesn’t have a “backstage.” The artists just step up from the back of the venue and walk up onto the stage. Noah and the Whale reached the end of their regular setlist, at which point Fink said (paraphrasing my own), “Now after this song, we’re supposed to go off and hide for a minute and thirty seconds, pretending it’s the end of the set. Then we come out again and play the encore. We don’t have anywhere to hide, so we’re just going to keep playing. But please, pretend this is the last song.”

01. Blue Skies
02. Our Window
03. Give A little Love
04. Slow Glass
05. Jocasta
06. Give me the Love of an Orchestra
07. Rocks And Daggers
08. Stranger
09. I Have Nothing
10. My Door Is Always Open
13. The Shape of My Heart
14. You Were Always On My Mind (Elvis Cover)
15. My Broken Heart

Essie Jain on MySpace
Robert Francis Official Website
Robert Francis on MySpace
Noah and the Whale Official Website
Noah and the Whale on MySpace
Cherrytree Records

I brought my actual digital camera this time. But you know what would be really cool? A digital camera that didn’t turn itself off at random that wasn’t ten years old and halfway broken. Yes. That would be awesome.

The Stage
Stage at the Mercury Lounge

Essie Jain
Essie Jain Setting UpEssie JainEssie JainEssie Jain's trumpet playerThe Crowd After Essie Jain

Setting up for Robert Francis/Robert Francis
Warming up for Robert FrancisRobert FrancisRobert Francis
Robert Francis

Noah and the Whale

Noah and the WhaleNoah and the Whale


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