Noah Gundersen High Noon Saloon
A healthy helping of heart and soul powered Noah Gundersen’s Thursday night show at Madison’s High Noon Saloon. The five-piece band doubled up on keyboards and percussion to deliver a well-coordinated arsenal combating existential crises with ballistic conviction and social afflictions with vengeful chords. From the light-drenched staging to the well-executed pacing, Gundersen threw out musical life-lines and walked emotional tight-ropes with breathless power-ballads exuding a David and Goliath vibe, uniting the crowd and rallying hope all the while seamlessly moving from full band to trio then solo and back to full band. Opening with the slow burning, “After All,” and closing with the climatic, “Bad Desire,” the evening never stopped changing dynamics. A rotating wheel of funeral pyre finales and flickering intimate interludes that inspired alliances between dancing air-guitarists and romantic mosh-pit singers.
A far cry from his simpler acoustic folk beginnings, Gundersen’s recent album, “White Noise,” shows an artist whose compound sound drives earnest certainty into parading crusades and self-conflicting benedictions into crucial resolutions. In performance, the lengthier tunes like, “Cocaine, Sex and Alcohol,” and, “New Religion,” blossomed in epic connections dredging deep and soaring high as sister Abby’s violin swept through brother Jonny’s lusty drumming and ace guitarist in the shadows fleshed out Noah’s passionate passages with delicate intensity while supporting the roaring choruses with finely-tuned fury.
Opener Silver Torches consisted of lead singer Erik Walters playing a solo acoustic set that drew incredible fire from his bold, rich vocals for a ferocious busking of his new rockin’, “Let It Be A Dream.” Both acts took time to remove the spotlight from themselves and point out they had brought on tour a spokesperson for SOS Children’s Villages, an independent, non-governmental international development organization which has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children since 1949. A giant clue as to Erik and Noah’s focus in song and beyond, their grateful sincerity filled the night. Frankly, compassion never sounded so fierce or so good.