Monday, May 17, 1999

Williams, Bogart's audience share love

Enquirer contributor

        “I want a full house and a rock 'n' roll band,” sang Lucinda Williams in the first of two encores during her Bogart's concert Saturday night.

        The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter nearly went two-for-two with those wishes. Her five-piece band certainly rocked. And while there wasn't a sellout, the house was packed, and the crowd was loving the hour-and-40-minute show.

        The love ran both ways. Ms. Williams is an artist who has made a career out of being careful with words. She has released only five albums over a 20-year span, and she's about as prone to gushiness as she is to writing a dull song.

        So her amazement with the crowd felt real. “This is really a great audience,” she smiled. “Cincinnati rocks.”

        Ms. Williams' set of 18 songs should have pleased any fan. All five albums were represented, with the greatest number of songs coming from 1998's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, winner of a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album.

        It didn't really matter what songs she picked, though. She began the night with a song about suicide, and the audience was happy. It didn't really matter what kind of band she brought along, either; she's a great solo act as well. But the band was exceptional, placing the show in the rarefied category of “One to Remember.”

        The softest number and the loudest one were the two best tunes on the night, a credit to the band. “Greenville” was given quiet accompaniment, allowing the lyrics of this fine Car Wheels selection to shine through. Opening act Patty Griffin sang harmony and handled the part as well as Emmylou Harris did on the album version.

        Ms. Williams turned the band loose on “Joy,” a 15-minute jam of Allman Brothers Band proportions. Guitarist Kenny Vaughan, slide guitarist John Jackson, and Hammond B-3 organist Greg Husted — looking like a young Greg Allman — traded solos around and around and turned the relatively calm album version into a Southern-psychedelic monster.


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