Chris Wood, Nottingham Playhouse Studio, Thursday November 25.
“I’ve had this cold for the past month and a half”, says Chris Wood, explaining the coughing fit that had almost derailed him during the previous song. “And guess how long I’ve been out on tour? A month and a half!”
Instead of cancelling his shows – which he said he might have done, had he been singing Mozart rather than a mix of traditional and self-penned English folk – Wood has opted to battle on, and it will take more than the occasional splutter to throw him off his guard. But even operating on reduced power, his warm, relaxed singing voice shone through, casting a spell of deep concentration amongst the capacity audience who squeezed into the Playhouse’s upstairs studio space.
The folk cognoscenti have already started naming him as a possible inheritor of Martin Carthy’s crown, and on the evidence of last night’s show, it was easy to see why. Wood’s passions – for the folk tradition, for the songwriter’s art, for speaking out against social injustices – were on full display, as he led us through songs such as Spitfires, The Grand Correction, My Darling’s Downsized and set highlight Hollow Point, a gripping account of the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes. All of these were taken from current album Handmade Life, as was the achingly lovely Two Widows, whose strengths even managed to withstand a sustained coughing fit from a similarly afflicted audience member.
Although the studio lights made it hard for Wood to see his fretboard, the sound he produced from his guitar was exceptional, striking a richly satisfying balance between booming, resonant bass tones and light, feathery flurries from the upper strings. A delightful evening, from a skilled craftsman and a natural communicator.