Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lucinda Williams at Berklee

We've somehow managed to miss Lucinda Williams the last few times she's been in town, but being on a Berklee Performance Center mailing list finally paid off when we heard she'd be coming back one more time.  We got pretty good seats and everyone I talked to was shocked to hear about the appearance ... it was not well publicized, though the hall was finally filled from what I could tell.

Did the BPC thing of parking in the Dalton Street Garage and meeting up at Bukowski's ... as empty after work (Wednesday May 10th) as I've ever seen it.  We had a few beers at the bar and then checked out the Boston Burger Company on Boylston for dinner ... pretty good!  Got to our seats about 15 minutes before the show, and it started right on time.

Lucinda had a minimal band (for her) this time: Stuart Mathis on guitar and harmonica (with a rack of 8(?) guitars, including what looked and sounded like a 12-string Stratocaster(!)), Butch Norton on drums, and David Sutton on bass.  They were great, but the real story of course was Lucinda's incredible songs and her brilliant ability to emote.  She had us all in the palm of her hand from the get-go and the crowd reaction throughout the show was pretty rowdy.  People started whooping, whistling, and jumping to their feet and shouting early on, and there were a whole lot of people doing it.  I think Lucinda was ready to wind down on the last date of her tour and thought that a college hall in staid Boston would afford her the chance to do it.  But we all showed our love and appreciation early and she responded with a great show.

The setlist was just fantastic.  Not only did she do some of her stellar recent songs, she dug way back in her catalog and pulled out some things I thought I'd never see her play.  Can't remember the order, but she did:

Passionate Kisses
Can't Let Go
Prove My Love
Drunken Angel
Side Of the Road
Sweet Old World
West Memphis
Lake Charles
Bitter Memory
Get Right With God
Unsuffer Me
... and lots more.

My jaw was on the floor!  I think Side Of the Road is one of the best songs ever and I couldn't believe she pulled it out of her bag (complete with the mysterious fourth verse ... what does she mean by that?).  And to have her cover both Passionate Kisses and Sweet Old World, that were so successfully covered (by Mary-Chapin Carpenter and Emmylou Harris respectively) was another unexpected treat.

But the most amazing, show-stopping, emotional, riotous moments, were when she just killed Essence and finished her encore with Joy.  The BPC staff probably were on the verge of getting out a firehose to try to calm down the people who were reacting wildly, jumping up and down, to Lucinda's dialog with fate, sexuality, and recalcitrant lovers.

As delighted as we were, Lucinda was apparently just as delighted.  Bless her heart, she grabbed the mike and tried to tell us (even more about) how she felt.  She said, "I'm 64 years old and so thrilled that people are still loving my songs and that I can go out and perform them."  Or something like that ... it was hard to hear her over the shouting crowd.

Wow!  Another great concert and then a pretty uneventful drive home down a Wednesday-night Boylston Street, over Berkeley to Storrow Drive, and then home on the highway.  We saw no ghosts on the highway ... they were probably all listening to Lucinda.

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