Skip to content

Review: Noah Kahan @ O2 Academy

Since the release of his latest album “Stick Season” last year, Noah Kahan has been taking the world by storm. Setting out on his highly-anticipated first headline tour of the UK and EU this month, I was very lucky to catch his show at Bristol’s O2 Academy.

By Susie Long, Music Subeditor

I won’t lie and say that I’m unbiased about Noah Kahan. I love him. Writing stunning songs about the trials and tribulations of growing up in New England in a post-pandemic world, and advocating for the discussion of mental health through his Busyhead Project, Noah Kahan has left his mark on the music industry in all the right ways. Recently, collaborations with artists like Kacey Musgraves, Zach Bryan, Lizzy McAlpine, and Hozier have launched him even further into the popular music scene, and suffice to say I am here for it.

Supporting Noah Kahan on this tour was the phenomenal group Tiny Habits. The trio, gaining popularity through their TikToks of effortless harmonies and covers, have some amazing music of their own too, which was a pleasure to see. Granted, I only caught some of their set, as the line to get into the O2 Academy was on a scale that I’ve not seen before. After zig-zagging our way through the rainy line, however, I was really impressed by Tiny Habits and their beautifully simple-sounding (but I’m sure extremely complex in practice!) arrangements. Their new single “Small Enough” is out now, and definitely worth listening to.

I’ve seen posts on social media saying that seeing Noah Kahan live is more effective than therapy, but I didn’t really believe it until I experienced it. As soon as Kahan jumped on stage with the rumbling guitar of “Northern Attitude”, it was obvious that he really is something special. His songs are deeply personal, and I cannot really describe the feeling of screaming them with your best mates and 2000 other people. Whether you want to laugh, dance, or cry, Noah Kahan’s music definitely has something for everyone.

During “Come Over”, a song which Kahan explained as being about the feeling of being ‘the odd kid’, Tiny Habits came back on stage, proving that they really can make any song sound magical. All I can hope is that, with his releases of collaborations, the official recording of this pairing is amongst them.

In June, Kahan released the deluxe version of “Stick Season”: “We’ll All Be Here Forever”. I remember listening to these six songs on a bleak, post-midnight walk home from work one night, and thinking that they were perfect at summing up how it felt to suffer from depression, to move away from home, to struggle with your mental health. These brilliantly vulnerable songs were amazing at showing me I wasn’t alone with my feelings and, when Kahan launched into the trifecta of tracks destined to destroy anyone currently in their ‘sad girl era’ (specifically “Call Your Mom”, “You’re Gonna Go Far”, and “Orange Juice”), it was lovely to see that clearly all his fans felt the same way. Friends hugging, wiping away tears, texting their parents, and most of all singing their hearts out along with Noah Kahan - I hadn’t experienced anything like it.

Noah Kahan’s influence of course extends beyond the massive popularity of his new album. Alongside these newer hits, he included a few of his older songs like “Maine” and “False Confidence”. These tracks, particularly when played as part of his “Stick Season” set, seemed to be nostalgic both for us and for Kahan; they felt like a conscious homage to where he’d come from, and how we had grown up and moved on alongside him.

Noah Kahan @ O2 Academy, Bristol | Susie Long

As his set drew to a close, the overriding feeling was that we simply never wanted it to end. I don’t think I’m exaggerating that much when I say I would happily have stood and listened to Kahan’s entire discography from start to finish - he could even sing out the phone book and I’d probably be captivated by it. Coming out once more to an encore of “The View Between Villages”, “Homesick”, and the beloved title track “Stick Season”, Noah Kahan gave us the show of a lifetime, before sending us back out into Bristol’s rainy night dancing to Taylor Swift’s “22”.

Noah Kahan is returning to UK stages next February and will be playing at Cardiff’s International Arena, whilst Tiny Habits are returning as headliners to Bristol’s Thekla next May - I think you’d be silly to miss either show.

Featured Image: Susie Long

Have you listened to "Stick Season"?