Tuesday 22 October 2013


Live Review

Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton

There is something eminently likeable about Chris Wood, although one of the mature musicians on the folk circuit he still manages to retain an endearing boyish and playful charm.

Chris Wood's latest album
This is how he got away with managing to disappear off stage, leaving his audience in limbo, while he went in search of his capo left in the dressing room.
He had already set the tone of not taking himself seriously with his fairly dull anecdote about his guitar picks which still managed to raise a laugh.
Wood eventually opened properly with a bluesy number which was a song he had learned from Martin Carthy Oh My Hat is Frozen to My Head.
After he indulged in a little banter, in which he uses the "F" word quite liberally, with the audience and after requesting one member share the snack he was eating, he had the entire bag thrown on stage at him, it was a good shot too.
Unfazed he moved on to The Cottagers Reply which like most of Wood's songs has a gentle rolling sound which enhances the clever and poignant lyrics he is famous for. The Sweetness Game brought in a country feel to his music before he moved into the title track of his last album None The Wiser which is a catalogue-style snapshot of recession Britain which sounds heavy but Wood's smooth voice and gently bouncing rhythms somehow pull you along and draw you into the lyrics.
Like a lot of his gigs he pulls out his version of  Jerusalem and while the words are the same as the great British hymn he has rewritten the music, and although it's an ambitious step it never seems to sit easy as a combination. 
He went back to his modern-day observations with My Darling's Downsized which is a wonderfully gentle song about realising there is more to life than just work and it's incredible how, when he weaves the mundane and ordinary into his singing Wood manages to make it both relevant and interesting.
Oh Baltimore is one of his more bizarre ballads but again has clever lyrics.
Chris Wood
Wood when he is on stage moves around like a schoolboy wanting to go to the toilet which again is bizarrely part of his charm, but what would be nice would be if he could introduce some more upbeat numbers to his repertoire, while his songs are witty, incisive and clever they do, musically, tend to be on the dour side and Wood is such a versatile musician it would be no problem for him to up the tempo occasionally. 
His next offering was a song about ageing and realising how you change called Disraeli which had a jazz-style opening and which he followed with a more traditional poaching song from Ronnie Lane which was a soft ballad which showcased Wood's pinpoint guitar picking and the same could be said about Little Carpenter.
One in a Million is a love song which strangely enough uses the analogy of a chip shop.
Among his most poignant songs was Masterpiece which is about the massacre in the 1972 Olympic village which has more than a hint of Jewishness about the sound.
Wood pulled out one of his lighter songs, an amusing ditty called My Daughter's Hard he then wound up his set with Wolves are Coming and More Fool Me, a country-style song which is about the downside of modern technology and how it has made it more difficult for musicians to make money from singles and albums.

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