Live Review: Kenan Bell, Noah And The Whale At Spaceland

With Pigeon John
October 6, 2008
Week Of Shows, Episode 10

Did you hear the one about the English folk-pop group and the hip-hop artist that met in a bar?

No punchline here.  Just a great night of music at Spaceland Monday night.

Ringin’ Everyone Else’s Bell: Kenan Bell with a few friends at Spaceland. (photo by the author)

Ringin’ Everyone Else’s Bell: Kenan Bell with a few friends at Spaceland. (photo by the author)

Coming off their blustery appearance at Saturday’s LA WEEKLY Detour Festival, BBC and NME darlings Noah And The Whale were greeted by an overflowing, industry-studded crowd when they took the stage early in the night.  Though their set was plagued by a variety of audio and technical difficulties, they represented themselves well, converting those who might have cried “hype!” before their performance.  While Noah’s release Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down is pleasant enough in a near-twee, Belle and Sebastian-meets-Vampire Weekend sort of way, their live mission equates to a far more involved, cinematic experience.  As was the trend this week at other concerts, the unsated audience called for an encore at the conclusion of Noah’s set.  For their efforts, they were rewarded with a not-essential but certainly fun and in-the-moment cover of The Smiths’ “Girlfriend In A Coma.”

Providing a bit of an aural sorbet after Noah And The Whale, L.A.-based act Pigeon John treated the waning crowd to lighthearted trek through some of their latest material, introducing hip-hop to the evening and paving the way for Spaceland’s October resident, Kenan Bell.  Lyrically astute yet comedic, Pigeon John’s set highlight was a number about women who make connections with men just to get access to their famous friends – a representative indictment of life in Hollywood if ever there was one.

Closing out the night, emerging local hip-hop luminary Kenan Bell presented a tight and energetic set, his live band rendering an infectious platform for his effortless rapping.  Though at times sounds in voice Bell can sound a bit like Eminem, his subject matter is decidedly his own and he excels at making certain both his flow and music are laden with hooks.  Providing further proof of The Morrissey Unifying Theory Of All Things, Bell followed up on Noah And The Whale’s own Smiths nod with a performance of his song “Save Your Life,” which contains samples from “The Night Has Opened My Eyes.”  Bringing out Noah’s horn player as well as inviting half the audience on stage for his final number (including a member of local act The Deadly Syndrome), Bell made certain his inaugural residency show went out with a bang.  Bell’s Spaceland residency continues every Monday this October.  Admission is free.

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