As I entered the Beachland Ballroom on Saturday night, well before show time, the anticipation for the upcoming performance was palpable in the crowd already milling around the venue. The Wood Brothers had easily sold out the medium-sized venue and people were arriving early to make sure they would be able to claim a good vantage point on the open floor and enjoy the show to the fullest. As the opening act started to fill the night with music, I headed to the front of the stage and never left until the last note had faded into the rafters.
Opening act, Sean McConnell, took to the stage with nothing but his voice and guitar, occasionally adding in a touch of harmonica. His casual demeanor and good-natured banter combined with his smooth, soulful voice, drawing the audience in to his performance. His spirit and soul came through in the powerful delivery of the passionate words and chords of his songs. The last song of his set was a touching love song he had written for his “beautiful wife” in which you could feel his love for both her and the music.
As The Wood Brothers took to the stage, the crowd erupted in appreciation as they dove straight into a performance fueled with energy and passion. Favorites such as I Got Loaded were met with cheers of appreciation and harmonies were added by voices from the audience. The band also performed some of the new material off of their upcoming album, slated for release in 2018.
Oliver Wood addressed the audience, expressing how great it is to come out on a Saturday night and hear your favorite tunes—then he stated, “We want to challenge you with something new.” They proceeded to deliver a brand new song being released next week, River Takes the Town. The audience’s devoted response expressed complete approval, with some people even singing along with the refrain by the end.
Throughout the evening, the incredible musicality of The Wood Brothers exploded on stage as they delivered song after song with fervor and spirit. Exploring and using every inch of their instruments and voices, morphing the lines between the two, pulling out unexpected sounds and rhythms—they led the night through an unforgettable and intrinsically unique musical voyage. Their immense energy and insane chemistry on stage infected the entire venue.
That energy got tuned down temporarily for an “old-timey” segment, they dubbed the “O’ Wood Brother, Where Art Thou” portion of the show. Sean McConnell returned to the stage to join them around a single old-school microphone. With the lights tuned down their voices took center stage as they delivered the poignant Angel Band and the crowd joined in the harmonies on Down By the Riverside.
When the lights came back up, The Wood Brothers intensely drove the rest of the performance; including an incredible cover of Tom Petty’s Wreck Me, letting the audience take over on Luckiest Man, and hitting a deep and powerful jam on Honey Jar. The music commanded their very beings, igniting Chris Wood’s intense dancing as he traversed the stage taking his stand-up bass along as his partner.
When their electrifying set finally came to an end, the audience exploded in praise. The music and passion coming from the stage had infected everyone’s being, and everyone wanted more. When The Wood Brothers returned to the stage, they took the time to thank the incredible crew that supports them.While their music easily stands on it own, The Wood Brothers revealed their own humbleness and true nature in acknowledging that it takes the sound man, the lights, the stage hands, the tour manager, and every other person behind the scenes to make the experience what it is. After sharing all those names and eliciting applause for their roll they dove into their encore performance. Beginning with The Muse, they finished the evening with the same passion they had exhibited throughout. When Chris Wood returned his bow to the bass strings, I felt it pulling the tears to my eyes.