M. Ward at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club

Monster of Folk Delivers Short, Sweet Set on Saturday, April 14

Anyone who’s seen M. Ward play knows he’s a man of not-so-many words. As the “& Him” accompaniment to Zooey Deschanel’s “She,” I’ve seen Ward all but hunker in the shadows, apparently pleased to deliver a few fluid guitar licks while his frontwoman did the talking, and as a quarter of the supergroup Monsters of Folk, he tended toward the same. An artist capable of capturing a crowd with just a song has no need for onstage antics, and, well, Ward’s more than capable at piquing a room’s attention.

As the main man on Saturday night’s sold-out bill, Ward delivered a solid set of new and old tunes (with a few Monster of Folk jams thrown in for good measure), all in support of his latest and notably laudable album, A Wasteland Companion. Like his catalog, the songs veered toward the dustier and folk-minded and capitalized on Ward’s signature raspy speak-sing. Thanks to a team of stellar seasoned musicians, even the more stylistically ambitious numbers (“For Beginners,” “Whole Lotta Losin’”) went off without a hitch, and most got the jam-packed room plenty riled up.

But where Saturday’s set failed was in its approach. While Ward’s set list was lengthy and replete with highlights from throughout his multi-album career, the speed at which he jammed through each track — and the unspoken race to the finish line he seemed to be in — made it nearly impossible to appreciate all the sonic goodies that came in between. For a musician that seasoned playing to a crowd that amicable, it felt like a half effort: a flash in the pan that could have been a nice, slow simmer.

Set List:

1. “Post-War”
2. “Clean Slate”
3. “Me And My Shadow”
4. “I Get Ideas”
5. “Magic Trick”
6. “Poison Cup”
7. “For Beginners”
8. “Crawl After You”
9. “Whole Lotta Losin’”
10. “Fisher of Men”
11. “Requiem”
12. “Never Had Nobody Like You”
13. “Cosmopolitan Pap”
14. “Primitive Girl”
Encore: 15. “Howlin’ for My Baby”
16. “Roll Over Beethoven”
(Chuck Berry Cover)

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