CAM PENNER with JON WOOD performed at Blackfriars Bar, Merchant City, Glasgow on Saturday 8 November 2014.
Review by Mike Ritchie
The log chopper and his close friend the beer maker – aka Cam Penner and Jon Wood, respectively – were back in town doing what they are better known for: delivering their special potion of magical music.
The distinctive flow, the masterful musical bonding and the overall atmosphere they create is both endearing and humbling.
Cam’s glorious vocals drift from a holler to a whisper as quickly as he would raise and drop an axe in his back yard when stocking up with wood to keep his family cosy over the winter months. And all the while, Jon’s aching delicacy on guitar and lap steel caresses his big buddy’s singing languidly and to stunning effect.
The arrangements are simple and all the better for it, as they let us savour and gorge on the precious tales of the heart and the home delivered with mountain dweller, Cam’s special passion, care and commitment to tenderness. The gentle Canadians – they got my personal gig of the year award of 2013 – managed once again to gather everyone in around them, hushed and comforted by the music, even when the hollerin’ and the stompin’ momentarily kicks in.
They make you want to listen closely to every word, each hand-crafted note: missing anything is just not on. Trouble and Mercy from 2009 yielded three tracks – Thirteen, the title track itself and If You Love Somebody, which was peerless in its humility and understated yearning. Springsteen’s bare and haunting State Trooper fitted the near, two-hour set perfectly as well, all stark and menacingly gloomy.
New songs for another album will be worked on shortly, Cam assured us. So on the basis of that news alone, those of us who sat in wonder at this sublime show will be making space on our record shelves for the next album while clearing a page in our diaries for another evening in the company of this utterly compelling duo.
“Be kind,” whispered Cam after he and Jon took a final bow: given his warmth and charm, how could anyone not comply? Brilliant.
Pic: Paul Kerr – Cam Penner and Jon Wood at Blackfriars, Glasgow.
Mike Ritchie on Sunday, 2.00-4.00pm, Celtic Music Radio 95 FM and online.