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Concert Reviews:
Lucinda Williams takes Royal Oak show into overtime

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Sunday, November 23, 2014

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ROYAL OAK -- Over 36 years on the road, Lucinda Williams has established a reputation for reliably good, and often great, shows.

But her concert on Saturday night, Dec. 22, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre went even beyond what the sell-out crowd could have expected.

On a particularly spirited occasion, Williams and her three-piece band turned in a deluxe 27-song, two-hour and 20-minute edition of their usual show, stretching things out with an extra encore following their usual night-ending cover of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World." "Like Patti Smith said, people have the power. Don't forget that," Williams told fans at the end of the Young song, and it was the power of the fan's response that convinced her the add the extra couple of songs after that.

Had the show finished as schedule, of course, no one would have complained. Williams and company delivered a wide-ranging troll through her catalog, from the rich opening of "Blessed" through honky tonk energy of "Can't Let Go," the crunch of "Pineola" and the melancholy majesty of "Drunken Angel." She also tapped her excellent latest album the two-disc "Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone," for five tracks, including a solo acoustic rendering of "Compassion," a musical adaptation of a poem by her father Miller Williams.

Williams, who kept a lyric book on a music stand to her right, also played solo troubadour on "Plan To Marry" and "When I Look at the World," while guitarist Stuart Mathis -- whose solos provided highlights throughout the night -- re-joined Williams for a gorgeous duo treatment of Lake Charles and, later, the Grammy Award-winning "Passionate Kisses." Amidst the abundance of other highlights were an aching rendition of Gregg Allman's "It's Not My Cross to Bear," a romp through Robert Johnson's "Stop Breakin' Down Blues," a stretched-out closing jam on "Are You Down," the church-flavored "Get Right With God" and raving rockers such as "Protection," "Change the Locks," "Righteously," "Honey Bee" and "Joy," with Williams giving props before the latter to Michigan singer Bettye LaVette and her cover of the song.

And then there were the "bonus tracks," as an ebullient Williams brought the band back on stage for Skip James' "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" and her own slinky "Hot Blood." Toasting her wine glass towards the crowd, Williams walked off without comment, which was just as well -- no words could have properly captured the magic that had just happened onstage.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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