Lucinda Williams – the Barbican, London, 21 January 2023

Where were we with Lucinda Williams and the Barbican?

We last saw her in 2019. She was railing against Trump. Now her ire is directed toward the US Supreme Court, in the wake of the reversal of Roe vs Wade.

She’s released the slightly one dimensional Good Souls, Better Angels plus a series of jukebox cover albums, recorded during the course of the pandemic. 

Lu front and centre

And she’s had a stroke. Not that it keeps a good woman down. There’s no guitar playing (a temporary thing apparently) but her voice is in fine shape. It can sometime waver around pitch. The expression is always there but she sounds great in 2023. She seems to be playing around with the phrasing of her songs, noticeably in the meter used in Fruits of My Labour. It feels like a Dylan thing, to guard against complacency, keep everyone on their toes.

Lu’s absence on guitar is covered by Doug Pettibone’s return to the band. He and Stuart Mathis lock together like Keith Richard and Ronnie Wood. It pushes the material toward the bluesier end of Lu’s repertoire. We get a Memphis Minnie cover. Pettibone gets to fire his fuzz tone all over Righteously. 

There’s elements of Lu’s Jukebox evident too. The encore features a cover of Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World. Lou Reed’s Pale Blue Eyes is preceded by a gorgeous brief tribute to Jeff Beck, in the form of Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers with Pettibone on pedal steel. 

I’d sum the evening up in one word – defiance. Whilst Lu needs some help and support post-stroke, she’s doing this on her terms. Her recovery is clearly an ongoing project which she is invested in – hell, this is a European tour and she’s front and centre for it. She makes a point of coming back to the centre of the stage at the end of the gig to thank everyone for their contribution. She’s patient and determined and one can’t help be impressed and inspired by her commitment and fortitude.

Her autobiography is yet to be released (it appears to be coming along in the spring). Published or not, there are still chapters to be written.

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LondonJazzCollector

Adventures in collecting "modern jazz": the classical music of America from the Fifties and Sixties, and a little Seventies, on original vinyl, on a budget, from England. And writing about it, since 2011. Travelling a little more widely nowadays, and at lower cost

PETALENGRO

Printmaker and Artist

the Heat Warps

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The Fall in Fives

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#KeepingItPeel

Commemorating the life of John Peel

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Headphone Commute

honest words on honest music

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The Old Noise

"This old noise?" she demurred.

The Sunday Dinner Diaries

On the Gravy Trail

Pushing Ahead of the Dame

David Bowie, song by song

Punk Rock Reviews

Reviewing Music

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A Blog About Music, Vinyl, More Music and (Sometimes) Music...

WORDS AND MUSIC

News, views and reviews on hi-fi and beyond, by Andrew Everard

downatthecrossroads

Where the blues and faith meet

LondonJazzCollector

Adventures in collecting "modern jazz": the classical music of America from the Fifties and Sixties, and a little Seventies, on original vinyl, on a budget, from England. And writing about it, since 2011. Travelling a little more widely nowadays, and at lower cost

PETALENGRO

Printmaker and Artist

the Heat Warps

Live Miles 69-75

The Fall in Fives

All the Fall songs, five at a time.

#KeepingItPeel

Commemorating the life of John Peel

The Bobsphere

Ramblings on Books, Music and Films

Headphone Commute

honest words on honest music

Wolves Molinews

Your place for everything Wolves

The Old Noise

"This old noise?" she demurred.

The Sunday Dinner Diaries

On the Gravy Trail

Pushing Ahead of the Dame

David Bowie, song by song

Punk Rock Reviews

Reviewing Music

Every record tells a story

A Blog About Music, Vinyl, More Music and (Sometimes) Music...

WORDS AND MUSIC

News, views and reviews on hi-fi and beyond, by Andrew Everard

downatthecrossroads

Where the blues and faith meet

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