Concert Reviews

The Legendary Lucinda Williams Comes to Town to Reveal America's Dark Side

On Halloween night, Lucinda Williams cut into the core of her songs, performing a bare-bones acoustic set at Twist and Shout and offering a preview of her appearance tonight at the Ogden Theatre.

Upon entering, fans were given the option of purchasing her excellent new album, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone. Doing so gave those fans a pink wristband which allowed early entrance into the performance area and a chance to meet Lucinda after the show.

See also: The Five Best Places to Buy Records in Denver

It's an incentive plan that may not work for all artists. But for Williams, who has been releasing music since 1979 and earning just about every accolade there is in the process, the die-hard fan-base was happy to oblige.

This would prove to be the only real fanfare, as the no nonsense Williams took the stage, strapped on her guitar and said "Well, here we are..." After the initial ovation died she launched into "West Memphis" off of her latest album.

Channeling her inner Johnny Cash, Williams told a first-person account of the horrors surrounding the West Memphis III and the injustice of being locked up for a crime you didn't commit. Like "Folsom Prison," and "Born in the USA" the song tackles a specific story that conjures up larger, more severe issues.

Williams continued to sing about the sinister side of American culture with the song "East Side of Town." Lines like, "you wanna see what it means to suffer, you wanna see what it means to be down, then why don't you come over to the east side of town," reminds the listener that the term "the real America" is alive and well, and maybe a place you don't want to visit. Take that, Palin!

Williams mood then shifted as she performed the song "The Side of the Road" off of her eponymous 1988 album. The song served as a juxtaposition from the previous songs, telling the tale of a young Williams leaving her partner to wait in the car while she walks around and takes in the wonder and beauty of her surroundings.

However, the trail quickly shifted back to darker territories as she busted into "Something Wicked this Way Comes." Williams joked that the song was in honor of Halloween, but it was clear Williams was not singing about ghosts or goblins but about real things that go bump in the night. Spurned lovers and future mistakes are closing, in and Williams is waiting to take them on.

All great artists have a way of conveying multiple sides of their personalities, and on on this night, Lucinda Williams was no exception. Seeing a performer of her caliber play acoustic allowed the audience a small window into the moment when she first picked up her guitar to express them.


- The fifty best rap lyrics of all time - The ten biggest concert buzzkills - Five more concert buzzkills - From Phish to Floyd, the ten best light shows

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Andy Thomas is a music journalist who hopes other music journalists write nice things about the music he performs. He lives in Denver with his wife, their two cats and a massive pile of unfinished projects.
Contact: Andy Thomas