The Wood Brothers warmed the George’s Majestic Lounge stage last night with the first stop on their winter tour. The band has been doing some recording in Nashville for their upcoming album, working with many great musicians and technicians, including Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. The Wood Brothers’ set in Fayetteville, Arkansas last night seemed a welcome change of pace for the band. They gave a stellar performance, with nearly 2 hours of music that floated through the rafters of the bar and into the hearts of longtime fans and first-time listeners (like my husband).
The band took the stage in front of a crowd that was ready for a great show. After a few days of ice and snow, a little jazzy folk blues was just what most of us needed. The crowd was on the older side (not a lot of dubstep fans in the crowd, probably…) and the brothers joked about next-day work obligations they knew most of us would have.
The Wood Brothers set started off strong, but slowly. They crooned their beautifully written songs, and Oliver and Chris Wood broke into masterful duets throughout. Oliver commanded the stage with strong vocals and fantastic guitar solos; whereas Chris set the mood with his instrumental prowess on the upright bass and signature dance moves. Percussionist Jano Rix added a lot of depth to the Wood Brothers’ songs and used unique instrumentation, including a Shuitar.
With all three members of the band being seasoned musicians, and heavily instrumental, the songs have a certain professionalism and technical soundness to them. The structures of their songs entwined with the incredible lyricism lead to songs fit for bars and performance centers; large stages and small. Their key changes and time signature switches are seamless, their stage presence humble.
Chris impressed me with his orchestral start to “Who the Devil” and the band continued to impress with the unique style of the song. The sound created for “Who the Devil” is not only fun and danceable, but it has a lot of musical depth as well. The group played a few of their more fun songs, like “Shoo Fly Pie” – a tune that seems to have been created so they can play such an awesome bass line. Other songs the band graced us with were “When I Was Young”, “The Muse” and crowd favorite “Mary Anna”. I loved “The Muse” – a story Oliver said to be true.
Toward the end of their set, The Wood Brothers brought a microphone onstage that they affectionately referred to as Big Mike. The crowd eventually grew quiet and The Wood Brothers sang a medley of songs that influenced them, including a beautiful rendition of “Ophelia”. Throughout the night, the band quipped with the audience and tossed some banter back and forth. Overall, though, we were all there for the music and The Wood Brothers knew that.
As seems customary now, the band played a two-song encore: “The Luckiest Man” and another that I didn’t recognize but had a surf-rock vibe to it. I left the show impressed and wondering how they do it. How do they meld such classic training with bar-worthy blues? How do they turn their 3-piece band into an orchestra?
The Wood Brothers played their first show of the tour last night, and they’ll be traveling all over the country. Some shows are already sold out so get your tickets fast!