M. Ward is a singer songwriter from Portland, Oregon specialising is hushly vocalised folk, roots, Americana call it what you will. Nine albums in and probably more famous for being half of She and Him but also a fifth of Monster of Folk, Ward is the go to man to add his unique flourish to enhance anyone’s sound.
Its solo acoustic tonight, but when Ward opens with an instrumental number it’s as if there are three guitarists on stage. The speed of his fingers on the fret board is phenomenal as he plays the bass part overlaid with rhythm and then lead. I don’t know how he does it but it’s amazing. And to top it all he barely looks at the neck of the guitar.
We are then treated to ninety minutes of sublime song writing, witty self-deprecating banter and genuine love from the man. Without a new album to promote tracks are grabbed from throughout his career including ‘Sandman’ from the Monsters of Folk and there’s an airing for a new song ‘Miracle Man’. There are scattered impromptu singalongs from the knowledgeable crowd as early as about the third track and every song is warmly and tonight very warmly welcomed.
I think M. Ward has a very British sound with his voice taking in elements of Nick Lowe and Ray Davies but with an added spoon of Americana and especially drawing a little vocally from his former band mate Conor Oberst. What’s refreshing tonight is there are no frills or countless re-tunings of guitars with the only breaks for when he puts on or takes off a harmonica. The live experience is not about sonic perfection, leave that in the studio, it’s about capturing and keeping a moment.
It’s been a great night and while there are musicians like Ward the world is certainly a better place and if only for ninety minutes we can forget what’s spinning outside of the club. Now grab me a water and a cold shower as even my sweat is perspiring.
‘Till the next time, keep on rockin’ y’all.