Jody Lynn Jackson
Quietly, without emphasis, Noah took the stage, picked up his acoustic, and began strumming the chords to the first track on his new album, White Noise. Without greeting the crowd, or acknowledging the cheers, he played. In a paradoxical way, this gave a distinct drama all of its own. The crowd quieted themselves accordingly, all eyes on Noah.
Fans lovingly asked, “Where’s Abby?” Abby is Gundersen’s main musical sidekick, all the way back to the beginning. She sings harmonies and plays strings on the albums. “Abby robbed a bank and is halfway to Mexico by now. I wish I could tell you this was the first time,” he joked. Actually, Abby needed some R&R, Noah explained, “Touring is hard on all of us at times.”
Gundersen took Bowery Ballroom on a journey through his albums, vacillating between playing songs from White Noise and a smattering of throwback tunes. “Admittedly had to google the lyrics to my own song.” Fans laughed, though I think he could have just sourced the lyrics from any number of the folks in the front row, passionately singing every word.
When White Noise debuted in September, Gundersen told listeners to listen loud, as the new tunes feature a full band, with a much more electric sound than Gundersen’s previous albums. After All, sounds like what I imagine it feels to be caught in the center of wave, all around is chaos, but in the center is space.
Because it was a solo set, I think the set was suited for many of his past albums. A fan favorite was ledges, which he restructured to feel strung out in the fashion of the new tunes.
Mid way through his set, he put down the guitar and walked over to a keyboard on stage. From the keys, he shared a few outtakes of the material written for the new album, as well as “The Sound,” which made the track listing. Though White Noise is meant to be played loud, it was a treat to hear some of the songs peeled back to their foundations -- to hear them in such a way where one could imagine Noah in the composition process.
The audience sang the whole way through, at times as loud as Noah himself, and were disappointed at the close of his set, eager to hear more. Naturally, the crowd at Bowery cheered to bring him back on stage for a couple more tunes. Among the songs he encored was a song was recently featured on The Jam In The Van live sessions, called “Bad Desire,” my personal favorite on the album. The song starts mellow as he sings, “I can’t please you / I will only leave you / as sure as the night follows day,” and moves into a hearty chorus of “Hold on, I’m comin home / You’re givin’ me a bad desire in my bones / I wanna see you tonight one last time.” The dynamic range in this song holds the same fingerprint as his other tunes, using the full range of volume on the scale from a 1 to 10.
He closed out with “Bad Desire,” and finally the title track from Ledges, giving the fans what they wanted -- one last chance to sing with Noah.
After All (Everything All The Time)
Fear and Loathing
A Case of You (Joni Mithcell)
Lady of The Ocean
Brand New World
Send The Rain (To Everyone)