It seemed that every time Royal Wood has come through Vancouver for the last couple years, I've somehow missed the show. But this time, everything aligned as he came to the Rio Theatre, a nice soft seat venue which seemed like it would fit Royal Wood's sound perfectly.
Opening the night was the Inuit-raised Montreal singer Elisapie. She was out with a pair of multi-instrumentalists, who were mostly on guitar, but also drums or kick pedals to create a light and beautiful pop sound. Elisapie had a lovely voice and some very catchy songs, including the breathy "It's All Your Fault", an ode to Leonard Cohen and the gorgeous "The Earth Moved". She also had a very warm stage presence, telling stories between songs and winning over the crowd. I wouldn't be surprised if half the crowd left with a bit of a crush on her or her music.
Not long after, Royal Wood was out with a full band in tow. He kicked off with "The Thick Of It", the lead off track to his latest album We Were Born To Glory, and wove his way through songs old and new, including his hits ("and by 'hits' I mean songs they play on the CBC" he joked).
Jumping between his guitar and a grand piano, he went from the slow and beautiful "I'm So Glad I Found You" to the rollicking "The Fire Did Go" and everywhere in between, with other highlights being "I Want Your Love" and the heartbreaking "Lady In White"
Royal was very smooth on stage, flawlessly killing time between songs to fix a drum pedal that broke mid-song, and a lot of his banter showed a bit of a dry, sarcastic sense of humour. He playfully teased people shouting requests and even slightly mocked the whole "encore tradition", calling attention to the "encore" that was written on his setlist before playing the "last song", then feigning surprise when he came back out. But he knew exactly what to play, as he capped off the night with "Do You Recall", getting some 'recognition applause' for a nice way to end off the night.
It was a really strong performance, and I'm glad I finally got to see him play live.