Review by Bokonon
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
That moment when you’re drunk enough, and it’s late enough, that you just don’t care what each other looks like — Lucinda Williams.
The hot, wet kiss of trailer park romance; skid mark panties and Bud Light Lime — Lucinda Williams.
True love; trying to remember what name you gave last night as you slip out the screen door the next morning — Lucinda Williams.
Given their power, she might have just played songs from the double disc all night. “Burning Bridges” and the Stones-y “Protection” fit right in with her indelible catalog and still ring in the ears after a single hearing.
As a performer, you sort of need that beer and the late hour. Williams is not sexy. She’s awkward, with a messy Fantastic Sam’s dye job and dance moves like a zombie. She can’t take her blank gaze off her music stand, despite having sung the words a thousand times. And her between song banter floats twixt vague and vapid.
But close your eyes, settle into the band’s endless South Coast groove and give yourself up to that bourbon and orgasm voice and you are immediately transported.
“I take off my watch and my earrings, My bracelets and everything, Lie on my back and moan at the ceiling, Oh, my baby.”
Oh, my freakin’ baby.
Williams learned economy from her poet father, Miller Williams (whose “Compassion” lends its title to the upcoming disc, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone). But she learned rock and roll from sex and the blues, and no one writes music as downright filthy or redemptive as Lucinda Williams.
Hers is music of pain, fragile beauty and a Nietzschean sense of survival.
“Baby, sweet baby, Can’t get enough, Please come find me and help me get fucked up…”
At The Egg, all those frayed nerves were on display. Stuart Mathis’ crushing guitar added the wordless scream, whether on suicide ballads like “Sweet Old World” or riffing anthems like “Changed the Locks” or the Sabbath-like grunge of “Unsuffer Me.”
Her current rhythm section easily aces the early Ciambotti/Lindley crew with bassist David Sutton and cowboy-hatted drummer Butch Norton grinding and humping through the two-hour set, which included encores of Lou Reed’s “Pale Blue Eyes” (could Lu Sings Lou be far behind) and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
If Williams had the onstage magnetism of Patti Smith or John Lydon, she would rule the world. As it stands, she’s one of our fiercest, most erotic and most erudite songwriters. Oh, my baby.
Openers, the Kenneth Brian Band were sent from Central Casting to play the bad Southern boogie crew in a made-for-TV film about an Alabama Oxycontin dealer. They were excellent in their roles.
Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
LUCINDA WILLIAMS SET LIST
Car Wheels On a Gravel Road
The Night’s Too Long
Right in Time
Tears of Joy
Compassion (new, co-write with Miller Williams)
Sweet Old World
I Envy the Wind
Are You Down
Burning Bridges (new)
Changed the Locks
Pale Blue Eyes (Velvet Underground)
Rockin’ in the Free World (Neil Young)