lucinda.jpg
All photos by 'Lil Scoop. Click the image to see a slideshow of the concert. 

Lucinda Williams 
June 11, 2007
McCaw Hall
Better Than:
None

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Are You Alright?

Even when Lucinda's bad, she's good.

lucinda.jpg
All photos by 'Lil Scoop. Click the image to see a slideshow of the concert. 

Lucinda Williams 
June 11, 2007
McCaw Hall
Better Than:
None of her shows I've seen before. Still better than basically everyone else.

With apologies to Vince Vaughn, Lucinda Williams concerts are like pizza, baby: Even when they're bad, they're good. Williams simply operates at a higher plane of aptitude than any other musician on the planet, which might explain the unfairly lame reviews that have been showered upon her melancholy masterpiece, West. So when I say that last night's concert at McCaw Hall was the least enjoyable Williams concert I've ever attended, it's nitpicking: I still left the venue thoroughly satisfied.

My quibbles have very little to do with Lucinda. She and her inimitable voice were in brilliant form, although she could have done without jabbing at the aforementioned critics' misinterpretations of her lyrics between songs (we're not mind readers, darlin'). And while one could argue that she drew too heavily off the new album in the earlygoing, that's her right as an artist -- and she more than atoned for it with a scorching version of Joy, her band augmented by the guitars of opener Kelly Jo Phelps and Bill Frisell.

As good as Frisell was on that ditty, he was also my main problem with the show, through no fault of his own. While he's featured repeatedly on West, having Frisell sit in for the entire show, versus a handful of songs, relegated Williams' superb lead guitarist, Doug Pettibone, to a subsidiary role. And anybody who's ever witnessed the smoldering (sexual?) tension between the Bone Man and Williams live knows that their interplay is a major, major part of why she's one of the best live acts in the world. Frisell, for all his manifold virtues, has about as much carnal appeal onstage as an ingrown hair on Jim Belushi's ass. While his playing was unassailable as usual, from a holistically experiential perspective, Frisell was old and in the way.

Finally, a note to Williams' burgeoning lesbian following: It's super cool that y'all have embraced the best female songwriter in America. But be aware that when she writes songs about certain dudes' inability to satisfy her in bed, it doesn't mean that she hates men, which was clearly the soft shoe interpretation of her preamble to "Come On" at McCaw. And when Williams sings the lyric, "When it goes south, know what I mean," it doesn't mean she wants to take a four-hour drive to Beaverton. Remember that, and enjoy the show.

Reporter's Notebook:
Personal Bias: If Lucinda had kids, she'd be the consummate MILF. 
Random Detail: When SW photog. 'Lil Scoop and I re-entered the show between opener Kelly Jo Phelps' set and the main event (we'd zipped across the street for a quick drink), there was like one ticket-scanner attempting to verify the entrance of all comers. It sort of made me wish I were a kid trying to sneak in. It would have been the easiest show to slip into sans stub into in the history of mankind.
By the way: Even though she now calls the Left Coast home, it feels weird seeing Lucinda play anywhere other than the South. Her music will forever be rooted there, irrespective of where she hangs her straw hat.

 
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