Lucinda Williams returned to Dallas for three sold out nights with opening act and backup band, Buick 6.
Dallas concert goers are not known for arriving early to watch opening acts. Those that came early were fortunate to catch Buick 6 play their instrumental set in the intimate Kessler Theater. The trio, Butch Norton, David Sutton, Stuart Mathis, played a mix of blues, country, and gritty rock.
Butch Norton broke out many different percussion instruments and led this drum-based band in their set. Guitarist Stuart Mathis demonstrated his skill playing flawless solos. David Sutton shined all night playing bass and fiddle. The early birds were lucky; Buick 6 left a lasting impression on everyone in attendance.
After a short break, Buick 6 was back on stage as the backing band for Lucinda Williams. With no introduction, the Williams began her 20-song set playing “I Just Wanted To See You So Bad.”
Lucinda was in great voice and sang effortlessly for the packed house. She explained the story behind many of her songs. “Pineola.” described attending a funeral in her early 20s.
Ms. Williams captured the crowd’s collective heart as she explained how Dallas is replacing Austin as the Music Capital of Texas. She followed that with a fan favorite, “Drunken Angel,” about a friend and musician, like many others, who burned out way too soon. Again, the penetrating words accompanied by great music captivated the audience.
Williams performed “House Of Earth,” a song about a prostitute in which she put music to lyrics written earlier by Woodie Guthrie.
She also played “I Know All About It,” a jazzy song that had been on the shelf for years. The mid-song instrumental break segued beautifully into “Ghosts Of Highway 20,” the title track of her latest album. She played an acoustic guitar by herself on stage playing a song, like a Don Henley ballad where a complete story is told in four minutes.
The hits kept coming with “Lake Charles” about a Texan, who wanted to be from Louisiana and when he died, his parents split his ashes and held two funerals. Southern writers Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor influenced “2 Kool 2 Be 4Gotten,” proving that reading is good for you.
It was a slice of Americana next with “Cold Day In Hell” and the emotional “Knowing.” Both were deeply personal to Williams, and she sang from her soul as she shared an intimate part of her life.
The night abruptly changed directions as Williams grabbed an electric guitar. “Doors Of Heaven” started as a honky-tonk song and would have been perfect with chicken wire in front of the stage. The band showed their musical chops again as they ended the song with a great rock jam.
She cut loose on the vocals during “Real Live Bleeding Fingers And Broken Guitar Strings,” a hard-charging rocker with a great title. Butch’s drum solo provided a perfect ending.
“Essence” turned into a rock n’ roll anthem that got the crowd moving and grooving. Williams was clearly having fun on stage, rocking out with her fans.
Next, she played “Changed the Locks,” a track that punctuated to the harder, driving sound of the second half of her performance.
The last song was “Honey Bee,” a great concert-ending song with solos by everyone. The crowd loved the song with a noticeable Steppenwolf vibe.
The audience gushed with applause and called for more. She obliged by starting her encore with “Righteously,” a personal song that showcased her band. No one thought it was possible, but Lucinda added another gear to her vocals for “Joy,” with its break-up theme of “You took my joy, and I want it back.”
The fist pumps lasted for the entire finale as Williams closed the show with Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” They added a terrific jam and audience sing along to finish her two-hour concert.
Lucinda Williams, with a career stretching almost 40 years, is a prolific songwriter and consummate entertainer. Her music still connects with listeners, as it did at this show in Dallas.
There is still time to see her live on this tour. She is Stateside through May 08 and in Europe during June and July.
Special thanks to Jeff, Cameron, and Garrett at the Kessler Theater for their assistance.
Joe Guzman of National Country Review was hand to capture the event.