Donnelly: Lucinda Williams@Liberty Hall, November 11, 2011

Some critics think marriage has softened the jagged edges that defined Lucinda Williams’ songwriting and performing.

They say that Williams’ trademark angst, anger, and pain gave way to the boring happiness of a healthy and stable relationship when she married her longtime manager Tom Overby in 2006.  They panned her latest release, Blessed, as sappy and lacking in grit, and wondered if her newfound happiness had stripped away her ability to find that tortured inner compartment she had used for so long to harvest material from.  

It’s kind of the same argument that some have applied to Jeff Tweedy and his band, Wilco.  After years of battling his demons, including a long stint addicted to painkillers, Tweedy finally got clean and proceeded to release several albums that simply didn’t match Wilco’s releases during the drug years.  During a performance in the summer of 2003, a pale and sweaty Jeff Tweedy asked the audience, "Is everyone high out there?" 

The crowd roared.

"Well… I’m not," Tweedy stated bitterly. 

"Tweedy needs to get back on the drugs," many people said.

While Lucinda Williams’ latest release certainly includes material that some would view as more optimistic, Friday’s Liberty Hall show displayed plenty of the piss and vinegar that fans of the iconic singer/songwriter have grown to love. 

"The human race is so disappointing at times," said Williams between songs.  She was dressed in a black leather jacket, blue jeans with a big, shiny buckle, and sporting a wild, washed out blonde mop of hair.  She looked tired, yet comfortable. 

"But don’t worry, I’ll make sure you get your money’s worth," she reassured the 2/3 full Liberty Hall audience, composed mostly of 50-somethings.  "This next one here is a new song, it isn’t even recorded yet."

Her band launched into Stowaway in Your Heart, a song they’ve been playing at most all of their recent shows.  Williams’ voice was distinct and clear, reinforced with an intangible power that sounded like it required much more effort than what it looked like she was exerting. 

It’s the kind of voice that can make ordering a cup of coffee sound interesting. 

Also notable was the nimble and very tasteful guitar playing of Blake Mills, who served as the opening act as well.  Though Williams’ band consisted of just herself, a bass player, drummer, and Mills on guitar, he was able to fill up all the space without overdoing it. 

His subtle finger picking style created a nice texture that couldn’t have been achieved as effectively had he used a pick.  Particularly impressive was his work with a slide, as he would alternate between bending in and out of chords, and then switching over to a straight finger picking style, with a honky tonk feel. 

Even with Williams’ famous voice and presence, Mills came close to stealing the show. 

About halfway through the set, the band really picked up some momentum with a cover of Bob Dylan’s Tryin’ To Get To Heaven that featured an extended guitar and drum jam outro.  With a bit of added energy, they rolled through Those Three Days, Real Live Bleeding Fingers, and one of the highlights of the night, Changed the Locks

For their encore, Williams and her band played the title track of the new record, Blessed, a rockin’ cover of the Allman Brothers classic, It’s Not My Cross To Bear, and finally, the Neil Young anthem, Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World.

Though Mr. Young famously said that it’s better to burn out than fade away, Lucinda Williams is somewhere in between at this point in her career, and she seems to be just fine with that. 

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19 Responses to Donnelly: Lucinda Williams@Liberty Hall, November 11, 2011

  1. zzzzz says:

    Great idea… start the Lucinda review talking about Wilco and the weather and …… yawn…. uh…… click

    pro tip- cut to chase, no one cares about your inner feelings

  2. Brandon Leftridge says:

    The Wilco mention was completely relevant, and integral to the story he was building.

    You sir, are an idiot.

    (and dude… “pro-tip”? Really? What is this, 2009?)

    Oh, and Matt? Tweedy is misspelled throughout the story. Heads up.

  3. zzzz says:

    LOL at Brandon Leftridge
    yeah,, whatever you say junior.

  4. Matt says:

    Thanks…
    …Brandon, and for the heads up on Tweedy. Appreciate it. Got that fixed.

  5. randyraley says:

    Nice work
    Matt, I thought it was fine work. The Tweedy thing was on narrative and used to make a point. A very relevant point because it was true. Tweedy hasn’t been a shadow of himself since, and for more examples, look what happened to Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Aerosmith, et.al. when THEY got cleaned up.
    Pablum.

    I thought the same about Lucinda and hoped she would still be Lucinda. Thanks for the heads up and the sigh of relief.

  6. zzzz says:

    Concert reviews should be a review of the concert, not a dissertation about how someone might feel about the artist….. and a proper concert review usually includes a set list… etc etc… Did you actually atend this show, or were you just wanting to talk about Lucinda?

    I know you are “all young and stuff”, but you might try studying at some “real” concert reviews and see how the pros do it, you know? so you can look “all good and stuff”.

  7. Hearne Christopher says:

    Easy Methuselah, it’s a little scary when you call a 30 year-old man Junior.

  8. Hearne Christopher says:

    Hey ZZ,

    It’s a Brave New World out here. Things don’t have to be done the same boring way. You prefer the (mostly) mailing-it-in reviews in the Star? In case you haven’t noticed, we’re not couching ourselves as their mirror image.

  9. zz says:

    reap what ye sow
    heanre, if your boys will play nice, I am sure people will play nice with them. But as it is, they are a pretty nasty, name calling bunch, and you know the ole saying, ye reap what ye sow, not to be….. “all proverbial and stuff”.

    This place is kind of like ma barker and her boys….. if ma was a pa ; )
    (no offense meant heare, you are still a good man)(you juts have an out of control staff)(harder than it looks eh?)

  10. Merle Tagladucci says:

    Good god zzzz, your whining is more boring than your screen name. Take the stick out of your backside and write your own review if you can’t sleep at night after reading Matt’s.

  11. zzzz says:

    yes merle, I am a good god, now bow down you peasant

  12. legendaryhog says:

    oh snap…zzzz, you are too much, stop killing em
    Zing! Damn, zzzz, you are killing em! Zoom! Hey-oh! Plus, showing the restraint to post only 4 times on three consecutive days on a review you claim to hate. Damn, you so smooth

  13. legendaryhog says:

    AHHHHHHH!!!!! *flush
    zzzz, you got to give me more time man. Two flushes for safety, beotch. Done with this one.

  14. zzzz says:

    herp de derp

  15. cappy says:

    Wow
    You guys are all douches

  16. DERP says:

    the proper way to say it here is….
    “I KNOW YOU ARE ALL DOUCHES AND STUFF”….

    hey, at least whats-his-name is finally getting some comments…. oops, I meant… “comments and stuff”

  17. Hearne Christopher says:

    Well, I’ve asked Craig to refrain from threatening you guys. And the truly baseless, filthy, nasty comments will die a quick death. Look, I have little doubt some of you guys will wanna tug on Craig’s hair and accuse me of not getting over being fired (laid off actually with a handsome check for six months salary that was as much or more than what most Star staffers make in an entire year) by the Star.

    And that’s fine. Craig’s a drug dealer and a snitch, I’m the world’s biggest loser and Matt Donnelly is a geezer basher. Mermaid wishes she was Craig somehow. Brandon has a potty mouth. Kelly Urich is a wussy and Harley and Smartman hold the secrets to the stars and are all knowing.

    Look, it’s not like we don’t ever get a chance to look in the mirror. We recognize our flaws, we just don’t relish the idea of owning up to them while taking it up the ass in the comments section.

    So bash away, that’s what we’re here for. But losers beware, we’ll be keeping an eye out.

  18. Hearne Christopher says:

    Funny

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