The Wooden Sky - The Slaughtered Lamb, London 09/10/12
Low-light, carpeted floors and cases of equipment strewn about the place; The Slaughtered Lamb is one of my favourite venues in London. There’s a feeling of community here which all the bands on the bill are embracing. Terrific support slot The Evening Hymns are close friends with The Wooden Sky. They have bounded merrily all over Europe together this autumn, and play together both on stage and on record frequently. I perch amongst friends, cross- legged like a child in a school assembly waiting for the Canadian-outfit to enrage the calm candles which sit on dingy wooden tables. .
Gavin Gardiner is a unique entity: his sincerity is genuine, and his determined disposition is admirable. From the beginning he commands everybody’s attention with a dignified optimism; lest we forget, The Wooden Sky came to life in his bedroom. Nuances of dynamics decorated by delicate vocal melodies define the performance as it progresses – though The Wooden Sky play hundreds of shows, their ethics feel completely natural. ‘City Of Light’ manages to perfectly juxtapose Andrew Kekewich’s wall-breaking snare drum with the wonderfully poignant keys. The majority of the set list is taken from Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun, however they refer to When Lost At Sea casually so their audience is offered the variety at their behest – the two albums are vastly diverse. .
Songs like ‘Child Of The Valley’ and ‘Dancing At My Window’ prove something about The Wooden Sky. The song-smithery and intelligent subtlety in their dialogue can truly be understood in this environment. Gardiner’s pleas really do illustrate his careful analysis and understanding of emotion, whilst the progressive use of emphasis and instrumentation speak truth about the philosophy of our communication and language. ‘Take Me Out’ is played and we’re treated to more conventional shapes of melody, which an ever-receptive crowd welcome with open arms – the vocal harmonies transfer into these live performances as more important components than they are on the record, bringing something different out of the songs. ‘Bald, Naked, and Red’ holds the crowd in its palm; tossing them against the wall and nursing them back to health in one breath. It really shows how powerful and dynamic Gardiner’s vocal is, and equally how overwhelmingly authoritative the band are.
This is folk music. It’s not ‘Folk’ music like the genre, but people’s music. If you listen to the album, the songs tell tales which are incessantly exploring changes in perspective, hailing the mantra that everybody is a star in their own show – and this is no different. We’re all as important as one another in this room; Gardiner spent the night communicating that. So as the show comes to its end, we’re sat in silence as both The Wooden Sky and Evening Hymns take to the midst of the crowd to acoustically entertain us; our fight will not be long.