Lucinda Williams at Fillmore NY, Sept. 29, 2007

A couple weeks ago, I saw one of my favorite artists, Lucinda Williams, perform at what they now call the Fillmore Irving Plaza. I had an extra ticket, so before the show, I stood outside the venue to try to sell it. While there, I met a ex-pat Texan named Baron, who writes a country music blog, twangnation.

Baron told me Lucinda would be playing one of her albums in its entirety tonight, as she would be doing for her four other New York shows. Tonight’s featured album was to be “World Without Tears.”

Cool, I thought, I like that album enough. Then, Baron continued, there would be a break, and then a second set where Lucinda would perform songs from different albums.

It took a while for Baron and I to sell our tickets (he had a spare, as well), so by the time we got inside, the hall was packed, and we made our way to the balcony. The show began, and true to billing, Lucinda launched into songs from “World Without Tears.” Well into the first set, it occurred to me that this is really not one of my favorite Lucinda albums. There are a handful of songs on it I really like (“Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings,” “Those Three Days,” “Ventura,” and “World Without Tears”), but otherwise, it’s an album I can live without.

There are two songs on the album I really can’t stand: “My American Dream,” and “Your Sweet Side.” I saw Lucinda tour in support of this album years ago, and even she knew not to put them on the set list back then, but since she was doing the album in its entirety, she had to sing them. Both songs have something of a rap influence, and while I appreciate Lucinda’s genre-blending experimentation, the songs befitted a term Baron told me he uses for country rap, “crap.” “Your Sweet Side” was especially painful, as Lucinda actually had to start over–twice! It was the one song I really wanted to end, but it seemed like it never would. But enough negativity.

Pretty much every concert I go to, there’s a song I come away with a fresh appreciation for–a song I didn’t care much for on the album, but finds a place in my heart when performed live. This night, that song was “Minneapolis.” Lucinda sang it with such beauty and soul, I could have melted right there on the spot.

Lucinda’s second set started with a powerful version of “Pineola,” a profound proclamation that said she meant business. The rest of the rollicking set was punctuated by guest appearances by the likes of Jim Lauderdale, Gina Rodriguez and Chip Taylor. I had moved down to the center of the main floor during intermission, and thus was much more engaged with the show. The highlight was a duet with Jim Lauderdale on the as yet unrecorded “Jailhouse Kisses.” She finished the show with another unrecorded song, “Honey Bee,” which was almost punkish in its manic rawness.

I love Lucinda. She is one of the most genuine, soulful, honest songwriters working today, and her performances are deep and uninhibited. Her band–led by the untouchable Doug Pettibone–was tight and energetic, but I’ve seen her better than she was that night. The show was being recorded, and she attributed some of her discomfort to that (another guy I met at the show suspected she’d been drinking). She wasn’t at her best, but I’ll be back, Lucinda, darling, I’ll be back.


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One Response to “Lucinda Williams at Fillmore NY, Sept. 29, 2007”

  1. Baron Lane Says:

    Hey man, thanks for the shout out!

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