The Deep Dark Woods, The Haunt (Brighton, UK) 8/25/12
Six months after their previous show in Brighton, the Americana Music Awards nominees (Emerging Artist category) the Deep Dark Woods made a welcome return to the city. Advance ticket sales suggested that this was going to be a sell out and whilst there was a good-sized crowd, sadly the chatter emanating from the floor spoilt the overall experience. I cannot understand why people pay to see live music and then proceed to talk all the way through the show. It is so disrespectful to the musicians and to those who have paid to listen to music not inane chatter! That said, it didn’t seem to affect the quintet who have no doubt played in front of audiences where not everyone has always been attentive.
From the opening notes of Back Alley Blues to the closing notes of Peggy O their trademark vocals, harmonies and instrumentation demonstrated why they have been showered with critical acclaim and recognition beyond their native Canadian home. Their brand of roots folk has drawn comparison with the Band and I can also hear the influence of the Byrds, Son Volt and Neil Young in their music – not bad company to be in?
Ryan Boldt’s original compositions and languid vocals are what the Deep Dark Woods are admired for however there is more to this collective than just Boldt. Together they are a tightly knit band that has toured now for a number of years (save for the more recent addition of organist Geoff Hilhorst); each individual band member is an accomplished musician who contributes fully – many of the songs tonight included extended (and for them, flamboyant) instrumental jams.
As one might expect, songs from their 2011 release THE PLACE I LEFT BEHIND dominated the set-list. When they play live the songs are more energetic than the album versions Sugar Mama for example becomes a real toe tapper. About half way through the evening they played a new song; I caught the lines ‘I’m a sad and lonesome rambler, the money’s almost spent, thinking about my baby, I forgot to pay the rent’. It sounded like another finely crafted lyric.
Up against a tight curfew, the seventy-five minute set was all too short. I am hoping that the next time I see them, I can do so in a room where I can concentrate fully on what is happening onstage rather than have to keep moving around the venue to get away from the chatterboxes! Jela Webb