Spiers and Boden close the festival in a wonderful fashion

Wood 2009 review

By Tommy Jackson | Published: Mon 1st Jun 2009

Spiers And Boden

Friday 15th to Sunday 17th May 2009
Braziers Park, Oxfordshire, OX10 6AN , England MAP
£55 - 3 nights camping and workshops included.
Last updated: Mon 11th May 2009

Blind Pilot
Clearly suffering from a heavy Saturday night, the majority of Wood attendees clearly chose to stay in bed rather than brave the day for Portland, Oregon Blind Pilot, which is a shame as they really were rather impressive. Showcasing their delightful indie-folk sounds on the Wood Stage, their all too brief set ensured an early rush on the merchandise stall, and made the long trip over the Atlantic worth the effort. Standout track 'Story I Heard' was reminiscent of early Beta Band, but there is enough originality in Blind Pilot to ensure they remain interesting for a long time yet.

All-girl guitars and harmonies outfit Little Sister, featured one of Friday's highlights, KTB, and her influence was clear to see. Playing mostly new arrangements of folk classics, they inject new life into material which many might consider stale. Their bright, jaunty treatments went down a storm in the Tree Tent this afternoon, but it was their original material which was the most interesting, with the stunning instrumental piece 'No Job' which really set this young outfit apart.

Karine Polwart5
Karine Polwart, came heavily recommended by pretty much everyone I spoke to over the course of the weekend, and after witnessing her late afternoon Wood Stage set, it was not hard to see why. Vaunted by the music press for years, Polwart's simple yet effective tales of love won and lost are heartbreaking in their sincerity and authenticity, and in 'Rivers Run' she has a bona-fide classic which should set her on a path to the very top.

Canadian export Po' Girl, stopping off as part of their UK tour, will understandably be the highlight of the festival for many. In yet another example of this wonderful festival's infallible scheduling, their rocky yet soulful bluegrass sound was a perfect way in which to spend a chilly Sunday evening. Word travels fast around Wood, and recommendations for Po' Girl were aplenty. 'Grace' and 'Drive All Night' both thrilled in their beauty, but Po' Girl's sound is only half the story. What really sets this band apart is their warmth and energy when onstage. It is impossible not to like them and it's impossible not to dance, and that must be a winning combination.

As founding members of Bellowhead, Spiers & Boden, know a thing or two about wowing an audience, hence the brave decision to grant them the festival's closing slot, and also the longest set of the weekend. It was hard not to question the 90 minute duration they were granted, but by the end it was clear that not even that was enough. Jon Boden's fiddle-work was mesmerising throughout the show, but rather than detract from his vocal abilities, the urgency and pace gave everything a vibrance which thrills in the extreme, whilst partner in crime John Spiers' accordion added wonderful harmony to everything Boden could throw at it. 'Captain Ward' delighted the swelling crowd in it's sea-shanty glory, and after a short singing lesson 'Bold Sir Rylas' ensured a party tone was maintained for the rest of the night.

Spiers And Boden
Few folk acts can command the attention in the manner of Spiers and Boden, and despite the depth of quality on offer this weekend, they must be judged as the greatest coup by the festival organisers. In an age when stage shows and gimmicks are seemingly the mark of a great gig, it was wonderful to see two men armed with a fiddle and a squeezebox close the festival in such a wonderful fashion, and as the curtain fell on the second Wood Festival, they ensured that many of those in attendance would be making the trip back again next year.
review by: Tommy Jackson

photos by: Tommy Jackson

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