Lucinda Williams at the Opera House

March 27, 2016 at 9:14 pm (Uncategorized)

A few nights back, I went to see Lucinda Williams and her band Buick 6 play the second of two nights at Toronto’s Opera House on Queen Street East. I saw Williams once before at Convocation Hall at University of Toronto in 2000 a short while before my daughter was born. It was an expensive ticket, but the chance to see Williams in a small venue (the Opera House holds about 800) was too good to pass up.

Buick 6 opened the show around 8:30. The band was preceded by a voice telling the audience that Buick 6 were an instrumental band, and that they should kindly shut the fuck up. And for the most part they did. Instrumental bands face an uphill battle.  We’ve been trained to follow lyrics and there absence makes us lazy in paying attention. Instrumental bands opening for a big name, have a doubly hard time. Still, they gave it a good go, and on the way home I regretted not picking up a copy of their CD. Aside from an ill-advised instrumental cover of “The Man who Sold the world,” the set was pretty enthralling.

Williams came on stage at about 9:45, and we were hers.  Having released 11 albums, Williams has an impressive back catalogue to draw on. In addition to songs from her new record Ghosts of Highway 20, Williams played favourites from Essence, Little Honey, Where the Spirit Meets the Bone and Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. 

What’s special about her shows is not just the choice of material and musicianship (along with those amazing vocals), but the sense of intimacy. The sense that here is someone who just loves music.  The sense that here is someone who is glad you came. In addition to the very generous 90-minute set, Williams played two encores or three and two songs (the rather dodgy version of the Clash’s “Should I stay or Should I go” was for me, the low point in an otherwise immaculate show),  before she was off into the night. If you weren’t there, you missed something very good indeed.

Set List

 

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