Orlando, Fl. • March 14, 2007
Lucinda Williams may very well be one of the great American songwriters and possess one of the greatest female voices in folk music, but all of this does not translate to a spectacular live experience. Anticipating the high percentage of audience members over the age of 60, Orlando’s Hard Rock Live broke the folding chairs out of storage, and the evening became a sit-down affair. Mixed in with the seniors was a surprisingly eclectic sprinkling of rockabillys, hipsters, teenage lesbians and classic rockers. Apparently Lucinda ropes in all kinds!
The comfortable crowd even showed love to opening act Heartless Bastards, who held their attention for an unheard-of 70 minutes. The band – which is actually a petite girl with a huge Janis-esque voice, backed by a drummer and bassist – punched out some powerful pieces of music, but overstayed their welcome (for me, anyway) after about 40 minutes. I never understand why a virtually unknown opener would play for longer than that amount of time. Unless they are just jaw-dropping and mind-blowing and the crowd is begging for more, move it along and get to the headliner, ya know?
The Lucinda Williams who stepped onto the stage wore the cowboy hat you’d hope she’d wear and a casual attitude with an intense stare. She’s always reminded me of Dylan in that respect. She’s got this quiet intensity that comes across even when singing these very mellow – yet heart-wrenching – songs about love, loss and lazy days. It has always been about her voice for me. It aches with experience, and it draws in even the most anti-country fan.
The second song she served up was 2003’s “Fruits of My Labor,” and as the crowd shouted with excitement for this wonderful song, Williams smiled modestly. She went on to play for well over two hours, decorating the set with a large percentage of older songs like bits of perfection off her masterpiece Car Wheels On A Gravel Road.
Lucinda Williams, like Bob Dylan, is a master songwriter and an artist you should see play live at some point in your life, but don’t expect it to be the most awe-inspiring concert you’ve ever attended. Sit down, have a couple beers, absorb the music and try not to get too sleepy.