Unfortunately I missed the opening act Ryan McMahon. There were conflicting reports on show times before the night, and I got there thinking I was just in time to see him, but it turns out he had just finished his set.
It wasn't long after I arrived that Wil took the stage, joined only by Kevin Haughton on drums, at the sold out Media Club, visibly appreciative of the support. You can always tell when an artist is going through the motions thanking the crowd and when they are genuinely touched, and Wil was definitely the latter. His roots-rock sound and rough, soulful voice filled the room, the raw emotion pouring out and his passion for playing immediately apparent, as he candidly hoped for the opportunity to continue playing for many years to come.
Wil opened the first set of the night with "Rain On" and after a few songs, he went off the setlist and started soliciting requests from the crowd, playing a few older songs, "Mama" and "Dance With The Devil". He also lived up to his "I Break Strings" moniker snapping a string during "Tell You Twice". And as many strings as I've seen him break, he never seems to be trying to do it to live up to a gimmick, but rather just from the sheer intensity of his playing -- his hands are often a blur flying across the body of the guitar.
And the strings aren't wasted; his wife takes the discarded strings and makes jewelry from them, selling them online and at shows.
After about an hour, Wil ended the first half of the night with a crowd favourite (and mine) "Honey Pie", an incredibly catchy and fast paced, slide guitar driven song. He was back out soon after for the second half of the night, kicking off with the building energy of "Cooder Mountain" and playing a few more songs, including the darker "The Deal" and wrapping up the night with another amazing showcase of his quick hands on the guitar with a song I didn't catch the name of.
As if it isn't already apparent, Wil is one of my favourite performers to watch live, and as long as he keeps playing shows, I will always be there.
Rain On, Gold, Hold Me On, Both Hands, Wedding Dress, Roam, Mama, Dance With The Devil, Tell You Twice, Honey Pie.
Cooder Mountain, Always With Love, Hey Now, The Deal, [mystery song].