Last night I had an opportunity to see Lucinda Williams perform live at the Armory. It’s not every day that a Grammy award winning artist plays a free show a block from your house so I figured I’d better check it out. And I’m so glad I did! (Unfortunately, Cheryl and Josiah didn’t come with me. Cheryl wasn’t feeling well and we weren’t sure how “family friendly” the venue would be.)
The opening act was a guy named Charlie Louvin, who apparently is a bit of a country music legend. I’m not enough of a country music follower to know he is a Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy his performance. He just turned 80 a couple weeks ago and it was really cool to see how warmly the crowd treated him and his music. I’m glad I got a chance to see him perform while he’s still with us, even if I had never heard of the guy.
Between acts I happened to strike up a conversation with Brother Wease about a guest he had on his show yesterday. She was a super conservative “born-againer” who was in studio to promote a play she is performing in. Normally Wease, the others on the show and the callers would be pretty brutal to someone like her. I thanked him for treating her with kid gloves. That led to us talking about Jesus for a while. We covered the rapture, pedophile priests and the “gay issue.” I was glad to have an opportunity to share the gospel with him. Well, the version of it I subscribe to anyway.
Lucinda Williams took the stage to thunderous applause from the near capacity crowd of about 2,500. A few lines into her opening tune “Rescue” I was completely hooked. Her voice is gritty, her sound is melancholy, but she’s definitely one of the best songwriters I’ve ever seen perform live.
Her music is interesting. The content is a delicate balance between brilliant and tawdry. It’s deeply spiritual (she performed “Get Right With God” as a duet with Louvin) and blatantly sexual (especially her song “Come On” which was definitely a favorite with the ladies). Her band was great and complimented her mostly acoustic guitar playing very well.
In my last blog posting “Lord Eddard” commented that many artists owed their careers to Lucinda Williams. I had the same thought last night during the show. Two came to mind specifically; Sheryl Crow and Courtney Love. I could tell both artists (and I use the term very loosely with Love) are heavily influenced by Williams’ song-writing and performance style.
Between the final song and the encore I talked to the sound engineer for a few minutes. Turns out he also works with Neil Young when he’s on tour as well. I don’t know his name but he deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor for the job he did making the band sound great despite the horrible acoustics at the Armory.
After the show I had a chance to meet Lucinda along with a handful of other people who were hanging around outside the venue. She seemed really kind and spent alot of time signing autographs and sharing stories with her fans. She was nice enough to sign the copy of the set list I scored from her sound guy.
All in all, it was a great night. I had a great time and I’m glad I went.