Review: Lucinda Williams at the Paramount Theatre, 11/12/11
LUCINDA WILLIAMS at PARAMOUNT | 11/12/11
About a halfway through Lucinda Williams' two-hour set on Saturday night, it felt somebody hit a switch at the Paramount Theatre and all the sudden the place was electrified. For the first hour, the crowd of mostly middle-aged folks sat fairly complacent in their seats, but "Steal Your Love" was the game-changer.
Fueled by Butch Norton's chugging beat, the crowd clapped along and as the song gradually got faster, Norton by seemed to be hitting the drums harder and harder with pieces of drumsticks flying around and he kept grabbing new sticks. When the song was over, most of the crowd was on its feet.
"I love it when everybody gets up, drinks and dances and everything," Williams told the audience.
From then on, Williams and her band kept the revved up the crowd on its feet by digging in to rockers like "Righteously," "Essence," and "Changed the Locks." "Joy," another rocker and one of the highlights of the night, encouraged at least one guy in the crowd to undo his ponytail and headbang. That's how heavy the band was.
The band or the crowd didn't let down for the rest of the night, closing out with a rowdy take on "Honey Bee" that featured some killer guitar work by Blake Mills, who played a few lightning fast riffs from "Flight of the Bumblebee" during his solo. Mills was actually on fire pretty much the whole show, showing what an insanely great guitarist he is, deft both at the slide and country picking.
While the second half of the show was no doubt much more energetic than the first half, Williams sounded just equally as good during the rockers as she did on the slower cuts early on like "Lake Charles" and the gorgeous take on "Copenhagen," a song from her latest effort, Blessed, that she said was inspired by hearing about the sudden death of her long-time manager Frank Callari while she was touring in Copenhagen.
The first half also included "Stowaway in Your Heart," a great new song that hasn't been recorded yet, as well as "Tryin' to the Get to Heaven," which will be on Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International, slated to be released later this month.
Williams and company rode the night out in great form during the encore with "Blessed," the Allman Brothers' bluesy "It's Not My Cross to Bear" and an intense take on Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World."
"Get Right With God," the last song of the night, felt like a supercharged gospel revival.
Personal Bias: I started listening to Williams through a booze-hazed filter at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge in the East Village of New York City ten years ago. While I'd heard Nick Drake's version of "Which Will" many times, I never really got the song until I heard her take on the song. It's taken a decade to see finally see her live, and man, the gal fully knocked me out.
By the Way: Blake Mills, who opened the show with a great set, is also slated to appear on Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.
Random Detail: Williams said there's an animated video of "Copenhagen" made by the creator of Squidbillies, a TV series which she said could be best described as South Park on acid.
Also Read: "Lucinda Williams reveals all about her writing process in this week's Westword.
Paramount Theatre - 11/12/11
1. Can't Let Go
3. Drunken Angel
4. People Talkin'
5. Stowaway in Your Heart
6. 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
7. Lake Charles
9. Born to Be Loved
10. Tryin' to the Get to Heaven
11. Steal Your Love
14. Changed the Locks
16. Honey Bee
18. It's Not My Cross to Bear
19. Rockin' in the Free World
20. Get Right With God