THE beloved Chris Wood is currently one of our top three folk practitioners*.

He may be a curmudgeonly old so-and-so and possibly prefers to be on his allotment, but the stage is where he belongs.

And this stage at the intimate Shelley Theatre is absolutely perfect for his effortless, emotional and thoughtful tales of love and loss.

One must factor in his uncompromising protest songs, political ramblings and social commentaries, of course, or he wouldn’t be a true folkie.

The multi-award-winning national treasure shuffled on to the stage, dumped his jacket, plugged in his guitar and began to pontificate about the meaning of life and question his very existence as a folk singer with the world in such a mess.

He was in a funny, world-weary mood, very talkative, but soon warmed up with familiar material such as the exquisite This Love Won’t Let You Fail and None The Wiser, squeezing every note from his trusty guitar, before closing the half with a version of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.

This gig quickly became very much a game of two halves as disaster struck when his amp blew up on The Flail, two songs into the second period.

But Wood didn’t bat an eyelid and switched without fuss to old-school folkie acoustic and the set changed to suit the circumstances.

Thus we had probably more covers than usual, including Ronnie Lane’s Debris and The Poacher plus Jack Thackray’s To Do With You and Jessie Winchester’s A Showman’s Life. There was also the likes of his own It’s Only A Friendly and So Much To Defend.

I came to Wood late (if one can use that phrase) seeing him support Joan Armatrading on a UK tour in 2012, and haven’t looked back. More power to his elbow.

Bournemouth Folk Club is putting on an impressive set of shows this season. Still to come are the Albion Christmas Band (December 13), Steve Knightley (January 31), Ben Ottewell (February 29), Phil Beer (March 14), Megson (March 26), Martin Simpson (April 18) and Daphne’s Flight (May 23).

 The other two top folkies are the incomparable Martyn Joseph and the mighty Show of Hands

Cliff Moore