Friday, October 11, 2019
Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine
This was my third Noah Gundersen show, and I plan to be front and center to see him every time he comes to Portland to play forever. I saw Noah for the first time in 2017, opening for City and Colour at the State Theatre, and he stole the show. I saw Noah headline in 2018 at Port City Music Hall, and the audience was captivated. I didn’t hear a peep out of the crowd the entire night as we all just soaked in the feelings listening to Noah’s songs creates. A couple of people in the crowd were chatty this time around (unfortunately, but common these days), but it was clear that the overwhelming majority of the crowd was there because they’re totally into Noah Gundersen and were entranced. Just a heads up regarding concert etiquette at a Noah Gundersen show–if you’re whispering, you’re being too loud. Noah deserves your attention and everyone who’s a fan wants to hang on every word.
Noah’s brother, Jonny, opened the show, and Noah and his band took the stage after a brief break. Sean (here’s his review of the show) and I found each other and our usual spot up front at Port City, and I introduced him to Elise and Stuart (who met because of Noah Gundersen and were right along the stage to see him together). I chatted with Sam Kyzivat from SnugHouse during the quick break, and my friend Bartlett showed up around then, too. The point is, Noah Gundersen brings good people together who share the bond of appreciating his heavy, soul-baring songs.
Noah’s ability to cast a net and pull a crowd together for a meaningful shared experience is powerful. He doesn’t say much in between songs, but it doesn’t bother me because his songs are dripping with feelings and he emotes so much while performing. It’s palpable. I think Noah is really special. Noah played all but two songs from his 2019 album, Lover, which is *beautiful.* I can’t pick a favorite song, but the first three songs on the album–“Robin Williams,” “Crystal Creek,” and “Lover”–pack quite a punch.
Noah introduced “Jesus, Jesus” by telling us that “I was basically a kid when I wrote it and my perspective has changed on some of it, but I guess the sentiment is the same.” Noah’s lyrics are heavy, including:
Jesus, Jesus there are those that say they love you
But they have treated me so goddamn mean
And I know you said ‘forgive them for they know not what they do’
But sometimes I think they do
I knew about Noah’s side project, Glorietta, but I learned about another side project, Young In The City, at this show. Noah told us his bassist Erik is also in the group and they played a Young In The City song, “Annie,” for us. I found their full set at KEXP and look forward to listening. I will always seek to maximize my Noah Gundersen listening options. He’s incredibly talented.
I was SO glad to hear “The Sound” and “Send the Rain (To Everyone)” live. Noah introduced “Wild Horses” this way–“people are pissed about a lot of stuff. There’s a lot of stuff to be pissed about. I wrote this song as a reminder to myself to remember that we’re dealing with people. Even if we’re pissed at people, they’re still people.” Check out the lyrics we could take a lesson from:
Maybe you would rather be angry
But I’d rather sleep at night
There’s a fraction to every outcome
There’s a spectrum of wrong and right
So give me a minute
To come to my senses
To look out the window
And stop building fences
Noah wrapped his superb set with “Lover,” and he and his band came back to the stage to play “All My Friends” as the encore. Noah’s music has such a powerful impact on me and I hope you’ll take a listen. Here’s his KEXP full set to check out. If you’re into feeling heavy feelings like I am, he’s your guy.