​Donovan Woods Main Stage, Guelph ON, July 23

​Donovan Woods Main Stage, Guelph ON, July 23
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
Canadian singer-songwriter Donovan Woods had a surprise in store for his first Hillside set in six years, but it was slightly ruined before he hit the stage when a sound guy spoke into the second microphone to confirm with someone in the mixing booth that ECMA-winner Rose Cousins would be backing the Sarnia native up on stage. The move added to the anti-climactic air of Woods' Saturday evening performance.
For the uninformed, Woods is a Warner/Chappell Nashville signee, which basically means he can write one hell of a song. A few of his latest (the up-tempo "On the Nights You Stay Home," poignant heartbreaker "The First Time," hometown dismantling "They Don't Make Anything In That Town"), as well as some older cuts (the partly palm-muted and powerful solo acoustic number "Sask"), were on full display, either solo or with his accompanying three-piece band, but didn't deliver the full impact for an audience of formerly happy Hillsiders zonked from the day's sun who were too busy downing dinner to register Cousins' late-set return to stage, or even notice when songs would end (the clapping grew more tepid as the sun continued to set).
Still, Woods has the voice of a blue-collar angel and the songwriting chops to back it up. He's good at giving the feels, but it's hard to feel much of anything other than the heat when it's that hot out.