WiL @ The Cellar -- 10/25/13

From the first time I saw him, opening at the Commodore for Wide Mouth Mason, I've been a fan of Wil Mimnaugh, otherwise known simply as WiL. With his energetic roots-rock sound, he has become one of my favourite guitar players, especially to watch live. So when he came through Vancouver at the Cellar Nightclub, celebrating the release of his first live album, Live at the Ironwood, I sure wasn't going to miss it.

It was an early show, and I got there a little late, missing first opener Connor Roff, and only catching the last couple songs of Jack Mercer. He was on stage alone with a very bluesy sound, and I wish I had caught more of his set.

Then at 9:30 sharp, WiL hit the stage, just him and drummer Kevin Haughton. Launching immediately into "Rain On", he played a nearly hour and a half set that spanned his albums, from old favourites like "Both Hands", which utilizes his raw powerful vocals, and a request from the crowd for "Mama", to a couple brand new songs.

Other highlights included the the powerful emotion of "Wedding Dress" and "Hey Now", where he really let loose at the ending, showing off how amazing of a guitar player he is. Going from wildly strumming so fast his hand is a blur, to intricate finger picking at a moments notice, his playing is as intense as it is mesmerising.
He's also got a great presence on stage; from joking around between songs to sincere gratitude for supporting him, to actual concern for the eardrums of the people standing near the speaker, he came across as very genuine. 

WiL lived up to his "I break strings" moniker, as well. After a few people in the crowd yelled some encouragement to break strings, he promised he would but admitted that it kind of sucks when it does happen -- "like yelling at a passing cyclist to get a flat tire!" -- and sure enough, during the second to last song of the night, he created more fodder for his wife's jewellery (she makes bracelets, earrings, and necklaces from the guitar strings).

Not bothering with the faux encore, WiL played right up until the curfew, wrapping up the set with the crowd (and my) favourite "Honey Pie", just tearing away at the guitar, somehow topping the intensity from the last hour and a half. I've probably seen WiL live a dozen times over the years, and he never fails to impress and amaze me.

Rain On, Hold Me On, [new song], Wedding Dress, Hey Now, We All, Both Hands, Mama, Oak Tree, Roam, Tell You Twice, Baby Baby, [mystery song], Honey Pie.