Noah Kahan. Victoria Warehouse, Manchester. 13.11.2023. I

We arrive just a few minutes after doors open and the queue outside Victoria Warehouse is massive. Inside, a mere 15 minutes after doors opening and this 3500 capacity venue is already half full, proof if it was ever needed, of just how popular Noah Kahan has become since the release of his 3rd long player, Stick Season, in 2022. His recent rise in popularity really has been rapid. This tour of smaller venues (Leeds last week was just 1000 capacity) sold out in no time and there’s already an arena tour booked in for February.

Before Kahan walks on stage there’s a palpable sense of excitement not just at the front, where anticipation is written all over the faces of those at the barrier, but throughout the whole place. When he does walk out the fact that there’s microphones on stage facing the crowd suddenly makes perfect sense. The noise from those present is deafening and as soon as the opening notes of ‘Northern Attitude’ ring out you realise that, despite the subject of many of Kahan’s songs, tonight is going to be one massive, joyful sing-a-long.

Kahan struggled with anxiety and depression and it’s these, along with hard hitting topics such as alcoholism, suicide and divorce that form the backbone of his songs. Topics that seem at odds with the atmosphere in here tonight. But, just as we can all feel better after a good cry or scream, those present allow Kahan’s presence and his music to act as a release where, for just a few hours, whatever shit is going on in your life really doesn’t matter.

Whilst Kahan is unique in what he does his songs are underpinned by that catchiness, clear lyrics, foot tapping beats, and easy to remember lyrics seen from artists such as Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters And Men.
Throughout it all Kahan involves his audience. He makes comments to individuals, smiles and waves at people. This isn’t just a singer, his guitar, a backing band and some decent tunes. This is someone who knows how to make everyone feel like they’re really involved. Individual band members are brought forward and placed in the spotlight, he smiles, he bounces round the stage. This is a gig where if you’re even just a little bit obsessed, and the place is rammed with those who hang on every word, nothing else matters. There’s clapping, arm waving, the obligatory phones out for just a few key moments. But above all there’s this constant joy of people singing along. People completely and utterly lost in the moment. And regardless of the genre of music there is something really special, really emotional witnessing 3000 people singing together. I mention phones – they really were only out for tiny parts of the night. Brilliant to see a predominantly young crowd really living in the moment rather than viewing it all on a screen.

Slower numbers such as ‘Still’ see the place plunged into darkness with just a spotlight picking out Kahan on stage and a hushed quiet from those watching. And whilst every song played is lapped up by the crowd it’s the encores of ‘The View Between Villages’, ‘Stick Season’ and ‘Homesick’ that hammer home just what the songs of Noah Kahan mean to so many people. It’s a way to end a concert that few here are going to forget anytime soon.

Noah Kahan is, very soon, going to be massive. Very soon people will be saying “I saw him in ’23 on the Stick Season tour in (insert venue)’. For those lucky enough to witness a date on this tour it will be an “I was there moment” because no matter what lighting or special effects are in place a gig in an cavernous arena cannot match the atmosphere of one like this.
And that quieter area right at the back? The one often occupied by blokes (because it usually is blokes) who just want to talk and drink, annoy those unfortunate enough to be near them, and occassionally quieten down when a song is played that they actually know. Well tonight that area is seized by people dancing with each other, singing to each other, smiling at each other or just stood together, watching the stage and soaking every last moment up.

Full credit too for support act Tiny Habits who delivered a rather nice 40 minutes of three part harmonies accompanied by just an acoustic guitar.
Great night.

Photos & words: Steve White

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Steve White

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