. : : November 26th, 2010 : : .
The sound in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre was much improved for Royal Wood‘s headlining set, at least over the muddled murkiness that it was for opener Hannah Georgas. It was only one of the ways in which the two sets could be classified as vastly different.
In my blog on Hannah Georgas, I described Hannah as spunky, energetic, with an underground pop/rock sound. Royal Wood, on the other hand, was classy, relaxed and baring a set that leaned heavily towards an easy listening / adult alternative vibe. I found Royal’s set to be a bit more challenging, as a concert-goer. Being primarily a pianist, Royal sat perched on his stool in front of a gorgeous grand piano, the absolute picture definition of handsomely dapper and looking quite as if he’d just stepped out of an episode of Mad Men.
Although my seat was literally directly across from him, the piano was situated so it was facing slightly towards the back of the stage. As such, I spent too much of the show looking at his back or slight 1/4 profile (see: above photo for an idea. I was seated just to the right of this position). The stage was so large that it seemed his band was all the way on the other side of the room, which made it difficult for them to capture my attention. As such, I was faced with an under-abundance of visual stimulation, and my eyes wandered — often to the lights, which were stunningly gorgeous in the venue, but sometimes I just closed my eyes and let the music wash over me.
Some of my favourite moments of the night, however, where when Royal Wood stepped out from behind the piano and sauntered over to the front of the stage, where he donned a gorgeous single-cutaway acoustic guitar that I loved. It was here, at the front of the stage, that he was finally able to produce eye contact with the audience, showcase a little emotion, and really turn on the charm. Don’t get me wrong: the man is literally a prodigy piano player, and his songs are beautiful, but two of my favourite memories of the night include him on guitar. Now that I think of it, both of these moments also included Hannah Georgas, who accompanied Royal on backing vocals for I’m So Glad, and suited him so perfectly that it could single-handedly break your heart and put it back together again.
The second moment was the main set closer, Lady In White. The song was gorgeous, and then highlighted by a laugh-out-loud moment when, while Royal was coaxing the audience to sing the refrain towards the end of the song, Hannah and band snuck onto stage wrapped white towel skirts and white towel capes, and paraded about the back of the stage, theatrically twirling as they made their way around the circumference. For a moment, you could see the confusion on Royal’s face. Here he was, asking an audience to sing along, and then they suddenly burst into bouts of laughter!
My only prior Royal Wood experience was the classic NXNE showcase he performed with Andy Maize and Amelia Curran this past June. For that show, Royal brought three of his most up-beat and energetic songs, which aren’t necessarily representative of his work as a whole. Seeing Royal headline a show in a theatre was a completely different experience. Since each of those songs were performed well within the first third of the set, I could almost forget they were the same artist for the second two-thirds. Luckily, against the odds, Royal still managed to keep my attention throughout the evening with his strong songwriting and irresistible charge.
After a bit of EQ’ing, the recording turned out actually quite nicely. There’s no known flaws to mention, except for the very occasional cough or chatter around me and one lady excusing herself as she passed me on her way out at the top of the encore. So, with that, here’s the usual FLAC and MP3 copies of the show. Enjoy!
02. Good Enough Day To Love
03. On Top Of Your Love
04. Weigh Me Down
06. Do You Recall
10. [new song?] Thinking Out Loud
12. I’m So Glad *
14. Birds On Sunday
15. You Can’t Go Back
17. Tonight I Will Be Your Guide
18. Acting Crazy (It’s A Breakdown)
20. A Mirror Without
22. Lady In White
23. [encore / banter]
24. Don’t Fall Apart
* With Hannah Georgas
Thanks to Royal Wood, Hannah Georgas, and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.