Noah Kahan at Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, NC

Noah Kahan is the voice people need right now to feel connected, understood, and part of a community once again.

Perfect summer evenings in Raleigh, NC are best enjoyed with friends, good spirits, and good music. Such was the case at the completely sold-out Red Hat Amphitheater to welcome Noah Kahan to downtown. The line to enter the venue started six hours before doors opened and it felt like every late-teen to early twenty-something within a fifty-mile radius was in attendance. The excitement for Noah’s performance was overwhelming.

Joy Oladokun and her band opened the evening with a mix of original songs and covers that leaned into her genuine, laid-back style. Joy sings from her heart and soul, meaning the music was technically imperfect but in a perfect way. Joy began by greeting the crowd and explaining she sings songs about her life. The words, the emotion, and the genuine “this is me” performance style was refreshing and authentically Joy.

Joy’s covers of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” and Elton John’s “Rocket Man” were instantly recognizable but wonderfully reimagined into her own personal reinterpretation. Original songs in the setlist included “Look Up” with its stadium rock anthem potential delightedly hidden under layers of singer-songwriter chill, and “We’re All Gonna Die” co-written with Noah Kahan. The applause closing Joy’s set was louder than the welcome. There’s no doubt many new fans began following Joy this evening.

When Noah Kahan took the stage, the noise radiating from the Red Hat Amphitheater audience reverberated throughout the entire downtown. An average-looking man, wearing a simple denim outfit including a jean jacket with a homage to Vermont emblazoned across its back, Noah is as unassuming as they come. If someone was asked to pick out of a lineup the man who has sold-out nearly every show in a twenty-date national tour, Noah would probably not be the first or second choice.

One fan described Noah’s success as the ability of his lyrics to take people on an “emotional journey.” In a world still recovering from years of pandemic-induced isolation, loneliness, and stress, Noah is the emotional and community reconnection people desperately need to stabilize their minds and hearts in the company of others who feel exactly the same way they do. All evening long, the entirety of the audience sang along with Noah, repeating every single word to every single song. During the quiet moments, not a single yell, whistle, or loud voice anywhere in the 6000-strong audience. It was both eerie and powerful.

Noah expressed his gratitude to North Carolina, having played the state several times but never to an audience this large. The setlist was heavily dominated by Noah’s most recent release, Stick Season, after which the tour is also named. Joy Oladokun joined the band for the title track during the encore, whose second voice added a meaningful perspective that Noah’s lyrics of love and love lost is an emotion that touches everyone.

It’s not uncommon to have fans sing along at a concert, but for about ninety minutes, Noah Kahan didn’t sing. Noah sang along as part of a six thousand person choir making beautiful, sad music standing shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart.

Noah Kahan continues the Stick Season Tour through September, including iconic venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. Most dates are already sold-out, a tremendous and well-deserved accomplishment for a man bringing so much healing to so many.

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About Mike Paquin 26 Articles
Mike is an enthusiast photographer in the Raleigh, NC area with a specialization in live sports, music, and street photography.