The Deep Dark Woods, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar (Brighton UK. 2/19/12)
‘This is unexpected’ said Ryan Boldt as the Deep Dark Woods took Brighton by storm on the second date of their first UK tour. Playing in a low ceilinged basement room, the Canadian roots collective from Saskatoon seemed genuinely surprised and pleased at the welcome they received. As soon as they completed their first song The Banks of the Leopold Canal the applause and cheers rang out and continued so, in appreciation, after every song of the just shy of one and a half hour set.
Released last year, their Juno nominated album, THE PLACE I LEFT BEHIND was on the best-of list, of amongst others, a friend whose musical judgement I respect and that’s what prompted me to buy tickets to this show and boy was I glad I did. Thanks Trevor!
Initially showcasing songs from the latest release (including Sugar Mama, West Side Street, Back Alley Blues and the title track) they departed from the album versions by finishing more than a fair few numbers with extended instrumentals. Tonight the quintet employed three electric guitars (including bass), organ and drums and really cranked up the volume! Those in the audience more familiar with their minimalist acoustic sound were perhaps taken aback by their ability to really rock it out but there’s no doubt that the Brighton crowd really loved these louder versions. My only criticism of the evening was that the vocals were drowned out when the volume was really ramped up. As someone who sets great store by lyrical content I was a disappointed not to be able to make out the words of some of the songs – I was however probably in the minority in this respect.
Dipping into a couple of earlier albums with Glory Hallelujah, River In The Pines, Two Time Loser, Big City Blues as well as covering an old blues standard Trouble in Mind they didn’t say a great deal between songs preferring to let their music do the talking for them. Drawing energy from the audience they built up a wonderful atmosphere, which saw many a toe tapping away, and some people dancing in rhythm to the music.
Messrs Boldt, Mason, Hilhorst, Goetz and Barlow were called back for an encore and finished the night with All The Money I Had Is Gone from 2009’s WINTER HOURS. A triumphant evening and a steal with tickets priced at just £7 – the best seven quid’s worth I’ve spent on live music for a long time!
An honourable mention too for the support act The Arlenes. The husband and wife duo accompanied by a guitarist were top quality openers and it was great to learn that they had recently relocated from the US to the UK, which means that we should see more of them in future. Well worth a headline slot in their own right. Jela Webb