Sunday, September 18, 2011

Concert review: Royal Wood

No fellow Winnipegger's, Royal Wood is NOT just a housing development in the south end. Royal Wood is a singer/songwriter who opened his tour here in River City this evening at the West End Cultural Center.

Dunno who he is? Look him up. Some friends asked "What kind of music is it?", and my wife looked at me... this is almost like the Amos Lee review... umm... hmmm... "He's a balladeer", I responded. "A story teller like Chris De Burgh, only with better vocals and stories that are closer to home."
Royal joked that his songs had been played on CBC but I wanted to yell out, "And on Galaxy, pop adult!"

I don't review every concert we attend... after all I never posted,  "Train was great, Maroon V... not so much". I hold out for the ones I want to write about, and while Train really was great, they're already "big". They don't need any other exposure from me, (as if my musings have any merit or are of any consequence).

The opening acts... well I'm not really sure who they were, and they were both OK. Danielle Duval opened for the other opening act (I guess), and she is on her first tour. Personally I found her music a little , "sounds like the last song you just did", but I see the need and huge upside to opening acts.
We first heard Royal Wood open for David Grey in Winnipeg, and we have been hooked ever since.
The second act was ... honest, I tried to look her up. She gave us some clues... sorry.
I know, if I'm going to do this I should at LEAST get the names.
Anyways, she was quite good and her music was a little more varied. Both could use a lesson in singing diction. I was taught to over enunciate your consonants, especially at the end of words. There is little point in writing a poem, setting it to music, and singing it, if no one listening for the first time can make out the majority of the words.
Let's just say we didn't buy either of their cd's.
Royal Wood came on as expected, wearing a vest and tie, always looking sharp. I think that may be some of the appeal. He seems to be a professional, but here comes the disclaimer... I'm filling in a lot of blanks, and will continue to do so.
Some performers are followed because of their music, while others seem to have a personality that goes with their talent, as if you can sense they are the sort of person you'd like to have a drink with based on their stage persona. Royal is like that.
His voice is always clear and powerful, hitting every note, and sounding as good in person as he does in the recording studio. His piano skill are quite good, and I was reminded while watching him, about why his music is unique. His piano accompaniment is primarily lower than middle C, using much of the lower half of the keyboard. He doesn't shy away from the upper register, but where many artists have a melody line hidden in their musical riffs, he relies solely on his vocals for his melody, a sign of a sure and confident vocalist. His tenor range is quite good, spanning a little more , (maybe as much as an octave), than the average tenor voice, and is able to move into the baritone range easily. His versatility is another great plus in keeping the musical styles fresh and enjoyable.
It's the type of music you can sing along with, as we did with the last number, "Ladies in White".
Fortunately I knew the words from our "sing-a-long" session at the previous concert I already mentioned, but then they're not that tough.
The music is clean, clear, and well performed by Royal and his band, which consists of one other back up singer/guitarist and a percussion section "in a box".
Aside from a great performance, he is personable on stage, joking and making a few self depreciating one liners. He attended the merch table immediately after the show to mingle. Nice touch.
By far the nicest "meet and greet" was with Joshua Radin, (in Minneapolis), where we were able to wait in line for a moment to talk, get a t shirt signed, and pose for a photo, but remembering to come out and mingle... well lets just say that when he gets "big", I hope he remains as approachable.
All in all, if I had a suggestion it would be to loose an opening act, and have a longer set list. I have no idea how much "work" it is to perform a show like this every few nights, so if that's a silly suggestion, my apologies, but I do know that the performance was soaked up like a sponge by many, and left wanting more.

There are artists "fans" wait in anticipation to release new material, and there aren't many artists I follow that closely. Royal is one of them.

Royal Wood was a great evening out, and we are anxious to have the new album autographed and mailed out. It will compliment the previous album we had autographed.

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