Less than a week after the January 24th release of Kingdom In My Mind, The Wood Brothers are back on the road doing what they do best. Night one of their two-night Webster Hall run showcased a band eager to introduce new music to the world while looking back to their roots. Almost half of the 21-song set was from their first two studio albums while newly composed Kingdom tunes filled the gaps in between. The result was a treat for fans new and old.
Over the past decade and a half, New York City has seen the brothers grow from small pub duo to world-renowned, percussion-backed trio. While their long list of New York venues ranges from the tight-knit Irving Plaza to the iconic Carnegie Hall, the recently-renovated Webster Hall isn’t generally associated with folk/soul music, but The Wood Brothers are not your average band. Thursday night’s eclectic crowd packed the house and welcomed the trio back to the historic venue for the first time since 2017. After the vocally-impressive Kat Wright warmed up the room with her short and sweet set, the main act opened with “Pray Enough” from 2008’s Loaded to kick things off. Fan favorite “Postcards from Hell” and radio-friendly “American Heartache” allowed Oliver Wood to show off his impressive pipes and signature songwriting talent. In the fourth spot, Chris Wood took over on lead vocals for “Jitterbug Love”, the first of four songs from their seventh studio release, Kingdom In My Mind.
To keep the fast-paced energy growing, “Shoofly Pie” got the crowd shaking and set up the charming “The One I Love” and reflective “When I Was Young”. Another oldie-but-goodie from Loaded came in the form of “Lovin’ Arms” before the fans sang along with the new “Little Bit Broken”, an already popular tune from the freshest album. With inclusive lyrics and onstage banter, “Little Bit Broken” recognizes the fact that nobody is perfect (including the band members), and our brokenness is alright to talk about. Attending a Wood Brothers show is like paying for a therapy session, family reunion, and dance lesson all rolled into one. Digging deep into their repertoire, the sweet and powerful “Chocolate On My Tongue” brought the first of four Ways Not to Lose originals to the stage. Oliver and Jano Rix turned up the heat during “Big Road Blues”, paying tribute to the southern rock influence that has shaped much of their live sound.
“One Drop of Truth” from the album with the same name lyrically beat around the political bush and shined a light on the trio’s harmonized talent before 2006’s “Atlas” gave the old school fans something to holler about. One of the most anticipated sections of every Wood Brothers show is when they take out their stand-alone mic (better known as “Big Mic”) and go back in time to the days before electric instruments ruled rock music. The soulful “Loaded” preceded an acoustic and inspirational “One More Day” leaving the entire crowd mesmerized with jaws on the floor. The last Kingdom In My Mind track of the night came in the form of “Cry Over Nothing” before the lovey-dovey “Keep Me Around”. One Drop of Truth’s “Happiness Jones” meshed nicely with Charles Wright’s “Express Yourself,” and made room for Chris Wood to show off his funky bass plucking. A rowdy rendition of “Snake Eyes” ended the incredible, career-spanning set and left the fan screaming for an encore.
The Wood Brothers’ staple “Luckiest Man” was introduced with an extended organ solo by the multi-instrumentalist Rix before the brothers returned to the stage to help the crowd belt out the familiar lyrics. To add one more cover to the genre-hopping setlist, the trio ended the night with Allen Toussaint‘s “Get Out of My Life Woman”, adding their own flavor to one of the most covered funk tunes of the past 50 years.
The Wood Brothers continue to redefine their Americana-soul-folk sound and attract new listeners from a plethora of sonic backgrounds. They have an incredible ability to keep their older songs fresh and their newer songs authentic. At the beginning of every Wood Brothers ceremony, they invite you into their sacred space and weave their masterfully written stories in and out of your own life experiences. For a couple of hours, strangers become closer through live music and, like the band on stage, feel that sought-after brotherly love and sense of belonging missing from so much of the day.
Check out a video from The Wood Brothers’ performance at Webster Hall below.
The Wood Brothers – “Express Yourself” (Happiness Jones cover) – 1/30/20
[Video: Marc Komito]
The Wood Brothers return to Webster Hall on Friday night before continuing their international tour in Philadelphia on Saturday. For tickets and a full list of dates, head to their website.
Setlist: The Wood Brothers | Webster Hall | New York, NY | 1/30/20
Pray Enough, Postcards From Hell, American Heartache, Jitterbug Love, Shoofly Pie, The One I Love, When I Was Young, Lovin’ Arms, Little Bit Broken, Chocolate on My Tongue, Big Road Blues*, One Drop of Truth, Atlas, Loaded, One More Day, Cry Over Nothing, Keep Me Around, Happiness Jones / Express Yourself&, Snake Eyes
Encore: Luckiest Man, Get Out of My Life Woman%
*Tommy Johnson cover
% Allen Toussaint cover
&Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band