Concert Review

London Audience Enthralled by Ian Noe’s Return

On 31st May, Ian Noe played Lafayette in London.  His first European gig in two years, it was also his first full-band gig in the UK.  Support was from Wade Sapp – a Floridian Nashville-based country singer/songwriter.  

After a TSA-blamed false start, Wade played a 12-song, 45-minute set, mixing songs from his upcoming record – Radio Check – with older tracks.  It was a nice set: he has a good country voice with some interesting lyrics.  The best song was At Ease, which can be found on the new album.

Wade Sapp – photo by Claire Stones

Ian started his set with a quick introduction before launching into Letter to Madeline from his debut album – with members of the crowd singing along and generally enjoying a heavier version than they’re used to – before following up with The Kind of Life, which also sounded good with the added backing vocals and full-band sound.  

After introducing his new record – River Fools and Mountain Saints – he gave a little information on the inspiration for the next song, which he wrote about a James Bond-type character, only he’s a hillbilly – Ian figured the market was missing that.  This song, Tom Barrett, continued with the band, and the lead guitarist added a new depth to the song not present on the album – perhaps because the guitar played the keys/organ part.

Ian Noe – photo by Claire Stones

Mixing things up a little, he played The Last Stampede next.  This is one of his early songs and not on any album, so it was interesting to see how many of the audience knew it.  It was worth him playing for the slide alone.  Next, another song from his latest record, POW Blues, worked well with his angry singing face – not something that detracts from his performance, but entertaining to watch.  It was good to see members of the audience dancing along.

Slowing things down a bit with Appalachia Haze, the playing on this was brilliant – one of those songs which you find it best to listen to with your eyes closed, enjoying every part of it.  Back to the dancing with Barbara’s Song, which sounds cheery until you listen to the lyrics – something Ian does really well.  

Junk Town was up next, once more slowing things down, followed by  Lonesome As It Gets to bring things back up again.  Returning to his first EP, Ian treated us to Off This Mountain Top – which included the lead guitarist on mandolin.  Yet more mandolin – this time played by the drummer – featured on Strip Job Blues 1984 and sounded great with it.  Another guitar-heavy (and not suffering for it) track followed with Promised Land

At this point the rest of the band left the stage and Ian was left alone to play If Tomorrow Doesn’t Do Me In with his acoustic.  The simplicity of this setup worked beautifully with the melancholy of the song.  With Dead On The River up next, One More Night and River Fool following, and Ballad Of A Retired Man last, the acoustic part of the show provided a lovely interlude.  Four of these songs definitely benefit from the stripped-back treatment, allowing the listener to enjoy the lyrics and sometimes sadness imbued in the guitar playing.  It wouldn’t be surprising if River Fool is played with the band in future, but it was good to hear with the crowd joining in for the chorus. 

Welcoming the band back, the title track from Ian’s debut was played.  The guitar and drums on Between The Country added something you don’t get on the album version, and was another song you wanted to close your eyes and just listen to.  With Road May Flood (It’s A Heartache), the audience unsurprisingly sung along with the Bonnie Tyler classic part of the song, and of course everyone joined in with the finale of the main set – Irene (Ravin’ Bomb).

The obligatory encore was an unreleased song called Highway 52.  

Ian Noe – photo by Claire Stones

With Steve Daly on lead guitar and mandolin, Michael Zimmerman on bass and Erin Nelson on drums and mandolin, Ian Noe put on a great show.  It was a different experience to his previous UK gigs, – the full band, for many of the songs, adding a new dimension.  The acoustic interlude was preferred by many of the fans in the audience, but both had their place.  The excellent guitar playing from Steve Daly was showcased well, and made great songs even more attention-grabbing.

If you enjoy country/Americana music, it’s worth checking Ian out – and if you get a chance to see him live, you will not be disappointed.
Ian is currently on tour in western Europe, and will be playing various dates in the US before returning to Europe for Irish and UK shows, and his appearance at End of the Road festival at the start of September. 

Further photos can be found at clairestones.rocks

Set List

  1. Letter to Madeline
  2. This Kind of Life
  3. Tom Barrett
  4. The Last Stampede
  5. POW Blues
  6. Appalachia Haze
  7. Barbara’s Song
  8. Junk Town
  9. Lonesome As It Gets
  10. Off This Mountain Top
  11. Strip Job Blues 1984
  12. Promised Land
  13. If Today Doesn’t Do Me In
  14. Dead On The River
  15. One More Night
  16. River Fool
  17. Ballad of A Retired Man
  18. Between The Country – band back
  19. Road May Flood (It’s A Heartache)
  20. Irene (Ravin’ Bomb)

ENCORE

  1. Highway 52

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