September 21st, 2010 at 1:03 pm
This may be the perfect way to see Lucinda Williams.
In the company of her friends and her father, beloved local poet and former University of Arkansas professor Miller Williams, Lucinda performed two nights worth of intimate storytelling for two sell-out crowds at George’s Majestic Lounge.
Reports from friends who attended the Sunday night performance had me anticipating quite a show during her repeat performance on Monday night, and Williams has happy to oblige the fans gathered in her one-time hometown.
It was a hastily called show – it was only announced on Wednesday, after the Sunday-night show sold out in a hurry after it was announced on Tuesday that Lucinda would be in town at all. Here’s how rushed it felt: At one point in the night, Lucinda thanked Guitar Center for letting her borrow the guitar she used. This may not have be the exact case, but the statement gave me the impression the concerts were put together on a whim.
It had a decidedly front-room storytelling feel. Without her backing/studio band, which adds a lot of texture to her stories of rough souls and broken loves, she was the sole source of entertainment. She supplemented her own playing and singing with the stories about the music she was playing.
“These songs are the book of my life,” she explained rather matter of factly.
As a performer who has largely been thought of a songwriter first and a vocalist second, it was a particularly enlightening affair. She took the audience to her Grandmother’s home in Louisiana (“Bus To Baton Rouge”) to a woman who was diving in the dumpster in Los Angeles (“Memphis Pearl”) and to her tributes to icons such as Janis Joplin (“Port Arthur”).
As someone who has been cited as genre enigma, Williams also took the crowd through some of that territory, too, mentioning the influence of Townes Van Zandt and playing Delta blues songs.
She also balanced her set across her 30-year career, playing early songs in addition to those so new they haven’t been released yet. The songs “Ugly Truth” and “Buttercup,” she told the crowd, are from an album she hopes to release in January.
There were plenty of local references throughout the show, including in the introduction she received from her father. She also played “Pineola,” a song about the Fayetteville-based poet Frank Sanford, who died in the late ’70s from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
William’s gig was a little on the short side, especially considering her wealth of material to draw from, but as a solo performer, some of that can be excused because she didn’t have any sort of backing band to give her a break.
She talked about her friends who had followed her to the gig, coming from places such as Atlanta, Florida and her current home of L.A. But she made sure to thank the crowd who came “from the bottom of my Arkansas/Louisiana heart.”
She was happy to be here, she let everyone know.
Likewise, there was roomful of people happy to see her, too, even if they hadn’t expected to just a week earlier.
Lucinda Williams setlist: 1) Down The Big Road Blues [Mattie Delaney cover]; 2) Big Red Sun Blues; 3) Jackson; 4) Memphis Pearl; 5) Blue; 6) Bus To Baton Rouge; 7) Pineola; 8) Crescent City; 9) Well Well Well; 10) Can’t Let Go; 11) Ugly Truth; 12) Concrete and Barbed Wire; 13) Somebody Somewhere; 14) Buttercup; 15) Disgusted; 16) Drunken Angel; 17) Changed The Locks; 18) Joy;
Encore: 19) Port Arthur; 20) Nothing in Rambling; 21) Honey Bee