Tuesday, September 14, 2010

review: LUCERO at Headliners

about 5 or 6 Years ago i dated a girl named Gina, this was back in my drinking days. my drowning in drinking days.. we would drink an ocean of bourbon and listen to Lucero sing about drinking a river of scotch, whiskey, beer, wine, anything. and every drop of it. during this time we saw Lucero play at Uncle Pleasant's. some of her lady friends joined us, stating that they were not very familiar with Lucero, but they wanted to see what a man's idea of what a love song was... "a country song" was what most men answered, but the truth is any song that helps you feel like you deserve to drink yourself into blackout when you are totally alone will do. and when it comes to this, Lucero is the king. Lucero music can make any amount of depression driven alcohol abuse seem acceptable, and even romantic. and yet when they play live they have the power to bring everyone together, happily singing along and buying round after round of irish whiskey for anyone close enough to knock glasses with you.
a little while after that show, Gina and i said our last goodbyes, and i said goodbye to booze. anyone in recovery knows it's a long hard road, and last goodbyes are never final goodbyes (as well as with love), and your best bet is to drop anything that reminds you of going back to it. still, i have always remained a lucero fan. sometimes it's hard listening to a song like "i'll just fall" with lines like 'it ain't the liqueur, it ain't the beer that keeps me down, it ain't the sad songs and heart ache, it ain't even this town..' with out reminiscing about the feeling you get when your heart is crushing to bits and the rest of you is sinking into a fifth of beam.
to that measure, i've largely done well with the non-drinking, and there's no better test than a Lucero show.. during nearly every song at Friday's show at Headliners someone offered me a drink, and after every song, lead singer Ben Nichols downed at least one glass of whiskey. at one point he drank a glass and immediately followed it with another saying "chasing whiskey with whiskey... i haven't written that song yet, but i will!"

it seems to most Lucero fans, the band could never do wrong, there's not a song in the set they wouldn't want to hear, and they've been hearing them for over a decade. but recently, over the last year, there have been a few changes to the lucero live set. at this year's Forecastle fest they added a slide guitarist and keyboardist to their standard 2 electric guitars, bass and drums set up. which was ok for me, i did enjoy seeing the regular band line up crank out their heart breakers over booze soaked distorted amps, but many of their albums had piano and peddle steel, so i figured since they were getting popular with a wider audience, they wanted to better represent themselves live. however, on their last album, 1372 Overton Park, they added horns on most of the songs, so i guess i shouldn't have been surprised that they brought a horn section with them this time. but i was surprised, especially when they played on many of the band's earlier work that wasn't originally recorded with horns. it was still a fun night, and it wasn't quite like the George Lucas "it might be your childhood, but it's my movie" kinda thing, but there is always an unsettling feeling when something you identify with is changed into something else.
after the show many people were talking about this, and a friend of mine said "they're getting older, we are getting older, they might just not want to feel stagnant.. My Morning Jacket did it too at the decade mark." it's true, a lot of bands do try and become more appealing to a wider audience at the decade mark, and Lucero has always experimented with styles; from California punk influenced "that Much Further West" LP, to the Americana/Bruce Springsteen-esque "Rebels, Rogues, & Sworn Brothers." and Overton Park is injected with the Memphis 70's soul sound, so maybe this is just a phase, or maybe it's the beginning of a new Lucero, but whatever it is, i am sure to stick by them and see what happens.

Southern boys; John King & Ben Nichols Photo: Marty Pearl for CJ

Back at the Uncle Pleasents show, when Lucero played "Nights Like these" i told Gina the song reminded me of her (still does), mostly because of the line "i only got just one wish, that i was good enough to make you forget the only boy who ever broke your heart, nights like these tear me apart". when Lucero played their famous Jawbreaker cover "kiss the bottle" she in turn said "this song reminds me of you", probably something to do with the line "I kissed the bottle, I shouda been kissing you. you wake up to a empty night and tears for two"
so for old times sake...
Lucero "kiss the bottle" live


Anonymous said...

This is a excellent, good work.

johnking said...

thank you. i was beginning to think that no one read my reviews; on account that they can be long and winding. i guess now i have no excuse but to keep at it:)

Anonymous said...

that was a good read.