On Thursday night in upstate New York, The Wood Brothers brought their one-of-a-kind sound to a nearly sold-out venue. The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall is a magnificent structure that has stood on the corner of Second and State Street in downtown Troy since the early-1870’s and was added to the list of National Historic Landmarks nearly three decades ago. Beautifully decorated with a massive Odell concert organ as the stage’s towering backdrop, the 1,253-maximum capacity venue served as the ideal hallowed space for the old-souled Americana troupe.
After Nicole Atkins opened the night with a short and sweet set, the trio came out feeding off the energy of a quieter and focused crowd which sat wedged in their wooden seats apparently designed for the butts of the late 19th Century concert goers. “Strange As It Seems” off the newest album One Drop of Truth was the first of six slower tunes pulled from their neo-folk-rock repertoire and was followed by “Two Places” from 2015’s Paradise. The multitalented Jano Rix picked up his Melodica for “The Muse” and then the shuitar for “Sing About It,” which both can be found on the 2013 award-winning album, The Muse. Oliver Wood commented on how the band needed to “ease into the room” and dedicated “River Takes the Town” to people around the country who have suffered from natural disasters in the recent years, which likely hit home for those in attendance that experienced the devastating flooding left by Hurricane Irene just seven years ago in nearby towns.
The Smoke Ring Halo track, “Blue and Green,” was the last of a half-dozen slower tunes before Oliver put down the acoustic and picked up his electric guitar. Rix and Chris Wood fused together to create a haunting intro to “Tried and Tempted” that made Oliver comment to the audience, “Kinda creepy right?” Thanks to the light design–a thick, blood -red hue soaked the stage as Chris prodded at the bass strings to give one of their earliest tunes a horrifyingly refreshing feel. The fan-favorite “Postcards from Hell” was dedicated to all of the behind-the-scenes Wood Brothers personnel and was highlighted by an exceptional harmonica solo from Chris before he took to lead vocals for “The Shore.”
“Pray Enough” off of the Loaded album was proof that the band felt comfortable in the historic venue, and led Chris to tell a story of nostalgia while the crew set up their old-timey single-standing microphone known as “Big Mic.” “The special microphone is made for a place like this,” proclaimed Chris as the bandmates huddled together for a somber rendition of “Firewater,” complete with a vocal hiccup from Oliver. Asking for, “Precision clapping only,” Oliver displayed his acoustic slide guitar ability during “One More Day,” which was followed by thunderous applause by the dialed-in audience. The impressive female opening act, Nicole Atkins, was welcomed by the band and crowd for “Angel Band” and her angelic vocals were perfect for the heavenly tune that was accented with a “Deck the Halls” tease by Chris and Jano.
After “Big Mic” was placed backstage, The Wood Brothers were ready for some bluesy rock and hit the ground running with “Big Boss Man.” Although Jimmy Read is credited as songwriter, this classic blues ditty has been reinterpreted by B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and the good ol’ Grateful Dead, making it an excellent cover for any generation. Oliver ripped his new guitar that he called “Stella” and Chris delivered notes that shook the floor via electric bass. “Luckiest Man” encouraged a full-room sing-along and took a new form thanks to Chris Wood’s desperado-influenced bass introduction. Another reimaged original, “Twisted”, took on a darker tone than normal and morphed into Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” off the 1994 Wildflowers album. At the energetic height of the evening, most of the room stood up and danced to the set-closing “Honey Jar,” which saw Oliver navigating the stage like a rock star.
A relaxed bassline that would serve as an excellent theme song for a detective TV drama introduced the first of a two-part encore with “Where My Baby Might Be”. One of the best things about a Wood Brothers show is that they enjoy keeping fans new and old on their toes. The Ways Not to Lose bluesy track took an entirely reinvigorated form and found the fanbase back on their feet to jam out. Upstate New Yorkers are no strangers to Levon Helm as he took residency and rest in Woodstock, NY–only a short drive away from Troy. When The Band’s “Ophelia” dropped as the closing tune of the night, fans sang along nearly overpowering the trio on stage. The well-executed cover can also be found on the “Live at Barn,” live album–a performance encapsulated in time from the home of the late, great Helm.
Tickets for The Wood Brother’s Fall Tour can be found here.
Setlist: The Wood Brothers | Troy Savings Bank Music Hall | Troy, NY | 11/8/18
Strange as it Seems, Two Places, The Muse, Sing About It, River Takes the Town, Blue and Green, Tried and Tempted, Postcards From Hell, The Shore, Pray Enough, Firewater*, One More Day*, Angel Band*$, Big Boss Man#, Luckiest Man, Twisted>You Wreck Me&, Honey Jar
ENCORE: Where My Baby Might Be>Ophelia^
* Gathered around single old-timey microphone
$ With Nicole Atkins
# Jimmy Read Cover
& Tom Petty Cover
^ The Band Cover