REVIEW: Lucinda Williams at Out of Space
Saturday night kicked off at Canal Shores Golf Course for the third night of the Out Of Spaces outdoor concert series this summer.
A stellar line-up of top performers headlined the weekend, as the festival continued to mark its annual concert series since 2018. Hot on the heels of Elvis Costello’s bustling and sold-out Friday show, while As Saturday night saw Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter and Americana legend Lucinda Williams take the stage.
The 18-hole course at Canal Shores, in operation since 1919, is the perfect venue to comfortably accommodate big names on one stage and accommodate the large festival crowd that goes with it.
A sort of pint-sized Ravinia, the space is neat and ideal. A host of accessible amenities, filled with food trucks from local restaurants, as well as small pop-ups from local artists were arranged around the grounds. To the audience‘s pleasant surprise, even parking just outside the venue was surprisingly manageable.
The green was flared with worn blankets, picnic baskets, coolers, charcuterie boards. Plenty of room to spread out civilly and enjoy the scenery on the manicured grass.
Family and friends are all enjoying the ease of the classic late summer evening. Kids ran barefoot through the crowds, weaving between campsites, while moms clinked glasses with plastic glasses of Pino Gris and dads strolled around in leather sandals, cracking open cold cans of frothy artisanal IPAs. All of this created a cozy and bustling scene.
Dusk fell and the music rose with the chorus of cicadas buzzing in the gallery of lush dark trees nestled in the perimeter.
Opening the night, indie country rock band Waxahatchee featured Chicago’s Sima Cunningham on guest vocals. The rock act was a terrific opener, in a peppy booming folk energy that got the crowd pumping and moving with every chorus.
Lucinda Williams took the stage as the halfpipe rose and gala lights illuminated the doors. The Americana High Priestess kicked off the set with her backing band, The Buick 6, opening with her 2001 hit, “Steal Your Love.”
Like turning a key in the ignition on a trusty old El Camino, the thing was on the road.
At 69, Williams remains, a total bad ass. After suffering a stroke recently, she chose to focus on singing instead of handling her guitar. This, however, was not an impediment to performance.
The fiery delivery of ongoing hits and on-set favorites proved just as poetically raw and honest as the harsh, ironic lyrical phrasing that marks the timeless qualities of his songwriting.
Many songs on set were tagged with great stories and dedicated to the memory of a mighty list of deceased friends and legends.
“Here’s one about another beautiful misfit,” she announced as the band launched into the classic “Drunken Angel,” written about crazy, tough country outlaw Blaze Foley. Another highlight of the set was “Stolen Moments,” a song she wrote shortly after the late Tom Petty, another close friend of Williams, who is now missing.
The narrative depth of Williams’ songwriting firmly marks his likeness in this solid Americana rock. Staff and ghosts aside, his stage presence is voice personified. Relentless and shrugging in brutal honesty. She blows you a robust kiss and then returns the bird to you at the legendary crossroads.
Every note is an undeniable testament that she has certainly been back and forth, time and time again. All of this contained in the austere beauty and brilliant fabric of his entire catalog, an incredible and dynamic career that spans over 40 years.
Another number, “You Can’t Rule Me”, was a song about blues guitar legend Memphis Minnie. Harsh, sad, rocking chords, echoing a fitting homage to the prolific Memphis blues icon of a century ago.
His backing band The Buick 6 fired on all cylinders all night, keeping the numbers vibrant with expert lock timing. Continuing extended jams at the starting points, they were able to take the songs out for a spin and rock the crowd.
For the closest, the band lit up Neil Young’s anthem of the century, “Rockin’ in the Free World,” to the delight and bristling energy of the crowd. The chorus of screams gathered the entire square as everyone stood and rallied.
Williams stood in front of the crowd, happy and smiling on top of it all, the thing reaching that one-night climax, the magic that can come but isn’t always guaranteed.
“Don’t give up the fight. The people have the power. Williams said, smiling and saying goodbye. “I think Patty Smith said that, but I’m going to say it too.”
The set was expertly timed and powerful. The best fighters don’t have to go nine rounds. It was a surefire KO Williams didn’t miss a point. She remains undefeated and tough as ever.