Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Lucinda Williams' great Sydney show


Lucinda Williams at Sydney's Enmore Theatre with Steve Earle. Photo: Lucinda Williams Facebook page.

I wrote a post a couple of years ago raving about watching a Lucinda Williams' Austin City special on YouTube and last night I finally saw her live.
I wondered about the impact of the bad stroke she suffered in November 2020, but she was in incredible form. Williams has obviously worked hard to get back to the stage of being able to tour and perform at a very high quality. She had to be led pn and off the stage, she can't play guitar and she was visibly tired from the effort (the only explanation for no encore as the crowd could not have been more pumped for one). But her voice was incredible, the best I can remember hearing it. She's always been more renowned for the quality of her songwriting and the poetic humanism of her stories than her voice but she sung beautifully last night.
Williams' songs are frequently masterpieces. She played some of the songs in that ACL show, the remarkably evocative "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" and a surprisingly upbeat version of "Lake Charles" (one of a few songs she has about those she called "beautiful misfits" and their early deaths).
She also played the sensual "Fruits of my Labour'", "Righteously" (about demanding decent treatment in a relationship) , "West Memphis" (about 3 west Memphis youths framed for murder in a hysterical campaign against "satanists" in a gross miscarriage of justice) and a song she covered on her 2020 album "You Can't Rule Me", originally by a Black woman country blues singer Memphis Minnie from the '30s that Williams dedicated to "The United States Supreme Court". All helped by her tight as hell band Buick 6.
Williams talent in story telling is to remarkable detail for often mundane experiences, such as "Out of Touch" about running into an old acquaintance on the street:
We speak in past tense and talk about the weather
Half broken sentences we try to piece together
I ask about an old friend that we both used to know
You said you heard he took his life about five years ago
She also played a new song from an upcoming album, itself a remarkable achievement post-stroke.
Oh and Steve Earle opened for her. He's a legendary singer-songwriter in his own right, but Steve Earle opening for Lucinda Williams is the correct order of things.

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