Monday, September 29, 2003

Lucinda Williams & The Jayhawks - 9/28/03 - 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

Saw Lucinda Williams and The Jayhawks last night at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. I was really looking forward to this doubleheader of two of my favorites. It would be a night of Midwest alt-country roots rock meets Southern country rock.

jayhawks.jpg The show opened with the Jayhawks playing a mix from their latest Rainy Day Music and working in some older favorites. I really liked "Tampa to Tulsa" which featured some nice acoustic work by Gary Louris.

"Save it For A Rainy Day" seemed a bit rushed but it was a better version then some of the previous performances. Earlier in the year, I saw the Jayhawks at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. The show was the day of the release of Rainy Day Music and the band was in fine form performing the new material.

Last night's show had a few bumps here and there but it was a well received show. I enjoyed the 9:30 Club crowd. We were able to stand just a few feet from the stage but not be crunched. "Tailspin", "Waiting for the Sun", and "Angelyne" were highlights in the set.

jayhawks.jpg Louris seemed to get increasingly perturbed by his microphone or the sound as the show progressed. He made numerous gestures to the sound crew about changing levels. At the end "Stumbling Through The Dark" he knocked over the mic stand with his guitar in apparent disgust.

Someone shouted out "Golden Smog" and that brought a chuckle and smile to Gary's face. They did a Golden Smog tune and I'm trying to remember the title. The Jayhawks closed set with "Sister Cry" which featured quite a bit guitar feedback. Louris took the mic and used it as a slide to create a wall of distortion before putting down the guitar and walking offstage.

lucinda williams.jpg Soon thereafter, Lucinda Williams strolled out with her acoustic guitar and outstanding band. She wasn't wearing a cowboy hat unlike when I saw earlier this summer open for Neil Young. She was grinning and settled in for a great evening of music.

Opening with "Passionate Kisses" which Mary Chapin Carpenter made famous, Williams set featured a number of the World Without Tears songs. Like the Jayhawks, she mixed in some of her earlier work from Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.

"Righteously" was delivered ever so sultry and there was great interplay with the band. Guitarist Pettibone was outstanding on pedal steel and backing vocals. The audience called out for requests but she said they'd rock out later in the night.

Other highlights included "Lake Charles", "Joy" which rocked out, "Drunken Angel", and "Real Live Bleeding Fingers & Broken Guitar Strings". "Those Three Days" was delivered with so much feeling that she could've been singing about last week.

The highlight of the encores was "American Dream", her rap-like epic from World Without Tears. Before launching into "American Dream", Williams went into a lengthy commentary about the "situation". She commented she was a bit uncomfortable speaking in the President's backyard. (The club is located about 15 blocks from the White House.)

She said that she loves the country but believes it's important for people to speak out against policies they disagree with. She told the story of being kicked out of High School for refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance in protest of the Vietnam War.

Williams proceeded to deliver a passionate "American Dream" snarling out the lyrics in her raspy southern drawl delivery. It was quite riveting.

As the show closed, Williams thanked the Jayhawks for opening and ended the night with a wave goodbye.


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