First Mystery Jets, then Johnny Flynn and now with Noah and the Whale. Cherwell’s rumbling route through the indie pop of South London continues. Indeed these acts, along with part time band member Laura Marling, have seen rather a lot of each other over their short careers.
‘It’s great,’ notes violinist Tom, ‘we’ve all collaborated together.’ That they certainly have, what with NATW’s Tom and Charlie producing Laura Marling’s album, Johnny’s sister Lilly Flynn appearing live with the band and even sharing the talents of James Copeman with the Mystery Jets to direct some of their sublimely unique videos.
Copeman, for the uninitiated, is the man behind Mystery Jets’ awesome ‘Young Love’ video and was equally influential in the creation of the hilarious ‘Shape of my Heart’ video based on the capers of a cartoon comedy Mexican wrestler.
Surely this closeness leads to misconceptions and accusations of a scene? ‘This man knows the score!’ laughs lead singer Charlie as I offer the term twee as just one that has been thrust upon them, ‘it’s always just a term,’ Charlie continues, ‘In fact, it’s what I dislike about modern music, not the music itself, but how its treated. Bands get pigeonholed really early.’
Yet the band hardly seems worried that they have been labelled. And why should they? They certainly have enough to make them stand out from the crowd. Take the band name for example, Noah and the Whale, sounds almost biblical right? Charlie shakes his head, ‘people always think that, it’s actually taken from a quote from a movie.’
Apparently not, then, but try as I might the precise source of their title is something the band want to keep to themselves. They are distinctly more forthcoming about another defining feature in their choice of record label, the tiny Young and Lost Club.
‘It’s great the way they work,’ Charlie notes appraisingly, ‘just two girls out of a flat.’ Moreover ‘Young and Lost’ are not just the record label, they’re also the promoters and the band’s choice of such a unique team showcases just how they think and work.
Daisy Johnson commented last week that Johnny Flynn was a little bit of a looker, and judging by the enraptured look on the face of my partner in crime for the afternoon, Vikki Stephens, this lot aren’t bad either; ‘are you always this cool,’ she asks, seemingly awestruck, ‘or do you have to work at it?’
The band laugh and direct attention towards Urby, described by Charlie as, ‘the Liberachi of the band’ and this evidently is no exaggeration. Today he’s sporting a delightful leopard skin jacket and the sort of brash confidence typical of a rising star.
This confidence clearly transfers well to the stage and an exuberant, expectant young crowd are not left disappointed. Some bands featuring a violin, a ukulele and an accordion could be seen as gimmicky but not these guys. Tonight they come across as less of a joke and more like a miniature version of Arcade Fire, but with songs about love and sunshine rather than death and politics.
The individual parts might well be simple, but put it together and well, it’s just gorgeous. This is nowhere more true than on single ‘Five Years Time’, a perfect pop ditty that has the entire mesmerized audience happily jigging and dancing around in circles tipsy on the sheer joy of the music.
One last question come from my sidekick: if the band were stuck in a whale, who would they bring with them? ‘Ray Mears for survival’ bursta Charlie. ‘No! It’s got to be Jonah,’ surmises Tom, ‘he’s been there all before.’
Too right, but to be frank this band need no escape artist or divine intervention. They’re on the up and judging by both their charm and tonight’s performance things can only get better for them.