Review of Woodenbox (formerly Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers) supported by Sara Bills and The Whisky River Band at the Ironworks, Inverness on the 25th of November 2011.
Woodenbox are nearly finished the follow up to the highly acclaimed ‘Home and the Wildhunt’, with the master just being received by the band, it was a bit of a surprise when they were announced to be playing the Ironworks and not the likes of Hootananny, for which the band are well acquainted. However the level of anticipation and the size of the crowd clearly warranted the decision to choose a bigger venue.
First support was Sara Bills, whose tunes and strength of voice never fail to impress, she was indeed minus the Hasbeens. Played a range of paired down songs from the band. Sara’s performance contrast a humbleness with a clear and over riding talent.
Sara invited everybody to the Market Bar after for an after show party and an opportunity to see her play with the whole band. It’s fair to say The Market got very very busy once Woodenbox had finished.
The tempo of the evening was taken up a good few bars by the taking of the stage of the ever reliable Whisky River Band. We had thought that everything that need to be said had been said of the band (see here) but the introduction of some new material is changing the dynamic a little given another level that tunes such ‘Dark Cloud’ always allude to.
A slight murmur of dissatisfaction was heard from the crowd when band anthem ‘No Regret’ was announced as the last song, a nod from the timekeeper allowed the set to be finished in traditional Whisky style with ‘Jungle Wook’.
It is a shame that the band were overlooked for the council run Hogmanay celebrations, an opportunity for the wider public to see the band would have been invaluable. However there will be plenty opportunity to see them over the festive period both at the Ironworks and The Market Bar.
Catching a few words with the band, it was clear that there are big plans afoot for the new year.So maybe,hopefully, deservedly, 2012 will be the year of the Whiskys.
Woodenbox are a band that those “in the know” spend a lot of time waxing lyrical, for those who have not experienced the band they have elements of Americana, Country, Rock and of course Mexican brass. However they create more expansive an epic, creating journeys trough tunes echoed by the Scotsman who noted “a slightly eerie quality which recalls the soundtrack work of Ennio Morricone” (full review here).
For tonight Woodenbox were playing on the floor, the advantages of which were that the setting looked less imposing and dare we say intimate. The stage set up, we have no doubt bigger than they have played on frequent occasions, still made them feel caged in, however this is related more to the sound, style of the band and the good size of support they had garnered, than the availability of space.
‘Home and the Wildhunt’ tracks obviously featured significantly with ‘The Twisted Mile’s’ extended intro added to the sense of anticipation, the crowds appreciation of familiarity well noted. Indeed the rapport , off mic, between audience and the band led to an impromtued chorus of “Sam is on fire” in support of band saxophonist Sam Evans.
Certainly the urgency and energy of the more up-beat tracks fitted in well with the general mood of the night, although to give the sense that these are throw away tracks is clearly wrong, because when the dancing is over the skilful orchestration and context can truly be appreciated.
The band have recently reverted back to Woodenbox, an acknowledgement of changed styles, for their forthcoming second album, but your still never too far from the western influence. And indeed we would have to agree to a more general comment that Woodenbox are on fire.
It would be amiss of us not to remind folk that Woodenbox will be on Marion Scott’s Show on Sunday night (27/11 8-10pm) and the forthcoming Netsounds Unsigned Podcast.
Written by Chris Lemon
Photos by Brian Vass