Rychard Carrington reports on Chris Wood - The Junction, Cambridge, 29 April 2013

Chris Wood
Junction 2, The


'I feel like a man in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, clinging on to a washing-up liquid bottle.' So said Chris Wood, one of the most interesting and subtly compelling of contemporary songwriters, playing to a large crowd at J2 on this Monday night. 'Hasn't the recession bitten here?' he wondered. Recession was a major theme of his current repertoire, at least a context for his sensitive but frank and simetimes angry songs of reflection.


Wood cut his chops (pun) on the folk scene, and he remains a great interpreter of the tradtional. He opened with John Barleycorn, and highlights were Cold Haily Rainy Night and, from his excellent new album,  Little Carpenter. He also played an unusually happy song about poaching, The Poacher by the late Ronnie Lane. The arrangements tonight were far from traditional folk, though: a trio of amplified guitar (Chris), Hammond organ  double bass (Neil Harland) and hammond organ (the rather inscrutable Justin Mitchell). The result was often a little reminscent of John Martyn or Tim Buckley, but even the love songs had an articulacy and a originality of sentiment that is distinctively Wood.


From his back catalogue we were treated to the beautiful and wise Summerfield Avenue and the even more beautiful and wise Come Down Jehovah. From 2009's The Handmade Life there was the biting contempt of Caesar, a judgement upon our political leaders, and the tender love of My Darling's Downsized. From the new album (trustingly available from the front of the stage for £10, attended only by an honesty box - this man surely deserves your support), we had the stateo-of-the-nation title track None The Wiser, a new tune for Blake's Jerusalem, the tender The Sweetness Game and Tally of Salt, the allegorical The Wolfless Years (the encore) and the reflections on ageing A Whole Life Lived and Thou Shalt. Not a duff number among them.


In between numbers, Chris's banter is world-weary to the point of cynicism. All-in-all, his combination of the down-to-earth, the sensitive and a kind of latent commitment to what is good and just and life-affirming is unusual, but very good indeed.



website: chriswoodmusic.co.uk


Writer: Rychard Carrington