Wildwood Kin / The Magnet, Liverpool | October 21st 2017

Wildwood Kin / The Magnet, Liverpool | October 21st 2017

I braved the wrath of storm Brian and ventured to The Magnet on Saturday, to see if three piece pop folk trio Wildwood Kin lived up to the hype surrounding their major label debut.

First up was last minute support act, singer/songwriter Mark Pountney, who opened with Sorrow Killers, a classically folk sounding ode to whiskey. Pountney was a decent opener, with a powerful voice and some lovely little flourishes in the guitar work, but he did have a tendency to slip into the formulaic with both lyrical content and the progressions in his songs. A standout track was Don’t let me Go, with its percussive guitar style and soul inspired vocals showing off Pountneys talents.  Last track Gotta Get a Boogie on was a more upbeat closer, and certainly charmed the crowd.  Overall, he had some shining moments of soulful vocals and guitar playing, (Plus the ominous whistling section in With God on my Side!) but barring these he could have been any number of local singer/songwriters.

Now for the headline act. Wildwood Kin have clearly got a bit of a buzz around them with the release of their debut album Turning Tides (with Sony), and they managed to pull in a decent crowd for their set, while rumours abounded that the BBC were also in the audience for this one.

Props are due to the sound guy at Magnet for overseeing a perfect sound on the night, with Wildwood Kin haunting harmonies and tribal drumming sounding mesmerising on their stronger tracks. Their sound is reminiscent of a female Fleet Foxes, and would be a perfect fit for fantasy scenes of epic landscapes. Overall, they played a good set, including the whole tracklist of Turning Tides, covers of Stereophonics and Crosby, Stills and Nash and some older EP tracks, all with a sound a little more stripped back than the new album.

Wildwood Kin have embraced their reputation for having a “pleasantly awkward” stage presence, which belies the professionalism of the music, and the length of time for which they have been performing together. This led to some endearing moments on the night, like bouzouki player Emillie’s seeming inability to drink water while the crowd was watching. This led to an exchange with suited audience member “Kevin”, who, after a lengthy discussion, bought the band a round of gin and tonics, which were gratefully received. The band then led the audience in three cheers for Kevin, a definite highpoint of his evening which he may or may not remember.

One of the highlights of the set was Salt of the Earth, the title track of their 2015 debut EP, which was a more uptempo, traditional sounding folk tune stripped of some of the more commercial undertones of the new album, but still with those ethereal harmonies right at the forefront. The cover of Helplessly Hopeful by Crosby Stills and Nash was another standout, and a brilliant choice for the band to cover, suiting their style to the ground. The band leaving the stage for their encore almost crossed the line from pleasantly to painfully awkward, but all was forgiven by the end of closer The Valley.

Overall, while the more commercial overtones of Wildwood Kin are not entirely to my taste, you can’t judge a band too harshly for wanting to get their music out there, and they delivered a great set on the night. Nobody can dispute that the vocals are absolutely enthralling, and sound as good, if not better, live as they do in the studio. Expect to be hearing a lot more of them soon.

 

Setlist:

Warrior Daughter

Circumstance

The Author

Run

Hold on

Turning Tides

Helplessly Hopeful (Crosby Stills & Nash)

Happy Birthday Clara,

Steady my Heart

Dove

Dakota (Stereophonics)

???

Salt of the Earth

On and On

Taking a hold

Encore:

The Valley

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