Two-time Juno award nominee Royal Wood and special guest Kerri Ough, of the Good Lovelies, visited the Fredericton Playhouse on Friday, March 15.
A packed audience welcomed Ough, accompanied by bassist Ben Whitely, to the stage. As soon as the first song began the atmosphere became comfortable and intimate.
Ough is currently touring alongside Royal Wood to promote her first solo album, One Day Soon. She describes the album as a very personal, intimate endeavor that has been a long time coming.
“It's a love song,” Ough said of the record. “The whole thing is just one big love song to my husband. He’s a great guy, and he deserves all the love songs in the world.”
She described the experience of working on the solo album as incredibly positive, but with the added pressure of being away from the band.
“When you’re solo, you can make a single narrative, instead of melding three stories,” Ough said. “I had the final decision on everything, which was exciting and terrifying.”
She played several songs off this new album at the Playhouse, including lead single “How is this going to end” and “Take off your clothes”.
Onstage, Ough recalled her previous experience with Royal Wood, when the Good Lovelies performed with him at Massey Hall. Since that concert, the two groups have been working together alongside the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, raising funds and awareness for the organization. The performers accompanied this story with a cover of Demi Lovato’s song “Sober”.
“It’s sad, but it is uplifting for me, because there is so much great work being done by people like the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health,” Ough said, and welcomed Royal Wood to the stage.
Wood immediately enraptured the audience as he entered the stage wordlessly, bowed in the dark, and sat at the piano for his first song before being joined by the full band.
Wood puts together a dynamic performance, equal parts music and storytelling. He introduced his songs using personal anecdotes, jokes, and long backstories ranging from an pub lock-in in a small Irish town, to his father’s death in 2018.
His 11th and most recent album, Ever After the Farewell, deals with personal themes of love and loss. Wood attributed his desire to share these more personal themes to maturity and his dedicated fanbase.
“Where I am in my career, and having this foundation of a fanbase that allows me to be myself and to be open and candid, has allowed me to do this, in the same way that I speak openly on stage,” he said. “I certainly tell stories and true emotion on stage.”
This sentiment was demonstrated throughout the show as Wood became visibly emotional while introducing “Photograph”, which he dedicated to his late father. Fans applauded him through the tough moment, showing their support.
Wood shared tracks from Ever After the Farewell, such as “Hardest Thing of All”, “Nowhere to be Found” and “Something About You”, while longstanding hits like “Forever and Ever” had the audience swaying in their chairs and singing along.
The Playhouse called Wood back on stage for a three-song encore, during which he stepped away from the microphone and led the crowd through a cover of the Beatles’ “Yesterday” on the ukulele.
He closed the show by inviting all performers, including Ough and Whitely, to the stage for a rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” that had the Playhouse on its feet.