Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Soul of the Estuary - Celtic Connections 2

--- and this is the second - a tour-de-force by Chris Wood
Chris Wood - ***** - Glasgow Art Club
Chris Wood - stepping up to the mark
It is a common misconception that the tradition of ‘folk music’ that addresses contemporary social issues doesn’t come from the South East of England, but must derive from the gritty urban north. Chris Wood blew that myth apart in this concert, and staked a strong claim to be- not just ‘an Estuary Soul’ singer, but ‘The Soul of the Estuary”.
Appearing on his own for a nearly two-hour concert he held a packed audience (nb to the organisers – he could fill a bigger venue!) entranced. Partly, it is the sharpness of the songwriting. His songs can take you straight into contemporary working class life - None the Wiser; So Much to Defend, minor league football – It’s only a Friendly, or they can pass stinging comment on politics as in Spitfire.
But if that were not enough, he operates on other levels. Hollow Point, telling the story of the killing of Charles de Menezes is guaranteed to freeze the blood, and his (admittedly risky) re – writing of the tune to Jerusalem has the result of bringing out Blake’s original call to arms.
Chris Wood’s triumph lies in his ability to both recognise unsung talent – his selection of the underrated and sadly-missed Ronnie Lane’s The Poacher to round-off the first half was a piece of magic – and his ability to write beautiful, simple lyrics that draw complex comments on contemporary society with humour and a sharp eye.
It can be difficult for an English folky to come up to Scotland and get an audience. If this concert is to go by, Chris Wood has broken through that barrier. Let’s hope he’ll be back soon.

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