Review and photographs by Richard Brody
The sold-out, standing-room-only Club Helsinki crowd came expecting a great show. The Wood Brothers did not disappoint. They opened with “Sing About It” from their current album The Muse. The strolling bass line laid down by Chris Wood that began the song was quickly followed by the light touch of Oliver Wood’s acoustic guitar, and then Jano Rix’s melodica, and when the last instrumental note vanished into the night, the first vocal line was sung a cappella: “If you get too worried, what you ought to do is sing,” the second half of which was sung in three part gospel-like harmony. We were barely a minute into the show, and the band had displayed their ability to seamlessly integrate several musical styles that captured their essence.
Good songwriters need inspiration and the title track of The Muse is an homage to Oliver’s wife, who provides the space and support for the tunes to get created. But it was the birth of his child that helped him complete the song with the lines:
“And if I was thinkin’ I’d be thinkin’ thank God whoever you are
For the muse and the miracle right here in my arms.”
Yet the music was not all nice and tender. The band turned up the heat on a number of songs, most notably “Honey Jar,” a funk-influenced tune that began with some dizzyingly fast bass and drums that carried the song until it slid into a slower tempo blues bridge that transitioned back into the fast stuff and remained there until its crescendo finish. And then there was arguably the crowd’s favorite “Who the Devil” that began slowly with Chris’ bowed bass leading and building to a rocking instrumental break that provided numerous improvisational sparks led by Oliver’s electric guitar that was overtaken by Rix’s percussion and Chris’ thumping bass, and then slowly brought back to the song’s opening tempo by Chris’ bowed bass.