I met a friend by chance after the Noah Gundersen show on Tuesday night. We both agreed it was an awesome, eye-opening thing and I related to him that to me, this was a live act so captivating, so spellbinding, that I might never pick up my guitar or a microphone or scribble down lyrics ever again. It’s like the opposite of the quote attributed to Brian Eno; ‘only 1,000 people bought The Velvet Underground & Nico, and all of them started a band.’ Yeah this is the opposite.
Immediately after the stellar acoustic set from Silver Torches‘ Erik Walters a musical bed washed over the Belmont and throughout the set, very rarely left, seemingly every song had tasteful white noise, some kind of soft synth pads that transitioned ideas from the earlier folk styled work to the exhilarating material from the new album ‘White Noise’ (available now).
Alternating from whisper-quiet fragility to unashamed bombast, this was a performance from a confident artist that knows what he has in his catalog and what he has in his supporting players. Speaking of the songs, I was impressed by the breadth of material, dealing with politics and mental health issues as well as relationships, none of the songs seemed overly broad or cliche. Instead they must come from a place of maturity. Well thought out, but not overbearing.
Take home highlights for me (a newbie to Noah Gundersen) were ‘The Sound’ and ‘Wake Me Up, I’m Drowning’, just two of I’d say 7 incredibly energetic full-on rockers. ‘First Defeat’ and ‘Dry Year’ among the beautiful acoustics were standouts for me. The latter being hilarious if it didn’t remind you of how messed up the world is with lyrics that bend into social issues like well, the current President, the speed of our lives hastening and the quality deteriorating because of social media or our attitudes toward it. Takes me a lot of words to describe. Noah gets much more milage in a lot less and in the delivery manages catharsis.
Speaking of supporting players, his sister Abby compliments and harmonizes perfectly and has a beautiful, quietly modest presence. Her violin parts are crisp and delicate. Jonny Gundersen keeps a glorious time! I tried to jockey for a bit better view of him behind the kit. And Micah Simler on the bass, what more could you ask from a bassist? He’s got a great hat and even better feel, I want to say he reminded me of Peter Hook but nobody likes when you compare a player to a player. The overall unit is so tight and impressive, there’s even a gentleman who seemingly doesn’t want anyone to know he’s there, working with synths (presumably) and playing excellent guitar, sometimes picking ear-worm leads or bowing the guitar like an AI Jimmy Page. There’s a technical and technological level in this unit that really impresses.
If I have a criticism, it’s that Noah is funny and has warmth when he talks to his audience and I kinda wanted more between song banter. There it is, that’s my review, I knew nothing of Noah going in, looking very much forward to drilling down into the back catalog and looking very much forward to the future of Noah Gundersen. If you get a chance to see this band – take it!
One more thing – Noah Gunderson and openers Silver Torches have partnered with CMHA this tour and I thought it appropriate to just leave a link to the website, because it’s good that they wanted to have a little dialogue and conversation about the importance of mental health and those that help people affected by it.
Review – Mike Rogers
Photos – Steve Gerrard