Wilder Woods at Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, NC

Not rain nor hail nor dark of night could keep Raleigh away from welcoming Wilder Woods to a nearly sold-out performance.

It was a dark, and stormy day in Raleigh, NC. High winds and torrential rain dominated the day, but Raleigh turned up in force and packed the Lincoln Theatre to welcome Wilder Woods to town. The audience was mostly twenty to thirty-something NEEDTOBREATHE fans and the excitement for tonight’s performance filled the air.

Opening the evening was rising singer-songwriter Abraham Alexander. Alone on stage with only his guitar, Abraham showed poise and confidence as if he was born to be on stage. His huge smile and obvious excitement were more fully explained a few songs into his set when Abraham announced his debut album SEA/SONS was released this day. Abraham also expressed a special excitement for playing in Raleigh, NC this day because he began the process of creating his debut album in nearby Durham, NC.

Performing songs “Knee Deep” and “Tears Run Dry” from SEA/SONS, Abraham’s delicate guitar and soulful voice kept the nearly 1,000 attendees silently engrossed in his music. A beautifully laid-back interpretation of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” showed off Abraham’s unique voice as an artist and garnered huge applause. Most powerful was Abraham’s closing to his set. Toward the second half of his closing song, “Blood Under The Bridge,” the house audio system went out, leaving Abraham without amplification for his voice or guitar. Without losing a step, Abraham moved to the front of the stage and used his powerful voice to fill the room. Abraham Alexander performed a wonderful set and certainly won a new group of fans.

Wilder Woods is the solo project by Bear Rinehart from the band NEEDTOBREATHE. Bear is in an enviable position where both his solo material and NEEDTOBREATHE are loved by fans, making Wilder Woods an exciting project for Bear and fans alike. Bear and the band took the Lincoln Theatre stage in darkness except for a huge lit “W” hanging as the stage backdrop. There was no question Bear was the draw, but Wilder Woods presented themselves as a full band filled with “giving (the audience) your money’s worth” talent.

Wilder Woods’ latest album FEVER / SKY was released last month and was highlighted throughout the setlist. “Be Yourself,” “Criminal,” and the single “Maestro (Tears Don’t Lie)” were crowd favorites from the new release but the song “Light Shine In” received the biggest reaction of the evening. Bear spent time explaining his personal connection and favoritism of the song “Make Your Own Mistakes” also from the album. Bear’s openness and unashamed ability to express his love for his children and family deeply humanized him and was one of the key reasons expressed by several fans in the audience as to why they love Bear and Wilder Woods so much.

Included in the setlist was a cover of The Beatles’ “Get Back” with a super-strong drum downbeat. Abraham Alexander joined Wilder Woods on stage and sang after the first verse. Unexpected was an Audioslave cover of “Be Yourself” showing the range of styles and influences on Bear and his music. A well-balanced mix of gospel, rock, R&B, and soul, the entirety of Wilder Woods’ set was heartfelt and downright fun.

Enjoying a Wilder Woods show does not require any appreciation of NEEDTOBREATHE. Different and unique from Bear’s prior work, Wilder Woods will immediately appeal to fans of Nathaniel Rateliff and Chris Stapleton. Wilder Woods continues to tour through most of 2023.

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About Mike Paquin 26 Articles
Mike is an enthusiast photographer in the Raleigh, NC area with a specialization in live sports, music, and street photography.