"The faultless song selection and musical passion on display made for the best possible live experience of Lucinda Williams one could hope for."
On this night of alt-country royalty, Dan Sultan had the opening honours and with just electric guitar, mic and keyboard he showed the full gamut of his musical CV, from brooding bluesy stomps to anguished and emotive soul music. He admitted he was nervous opening for Lucinda Williams but once he started playing he showed no obvious sign of nerves as the crowd cheered him on.
Lucinda Williams inhabits her own world at the junction of roots music, where blues, folk, country and rock'n roll all collide and blend into a glorious gumbo. With a voice as instantly recognisable and unique as Dylan, Waits or Young, she took the Sydney audience on a 22-song journey through her back catalogue. There was a focus on last year's Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone, yet she peppered the set with some of her finest older songs. Drunken Angel, her tribute to Blaze Foley, was an early highlight and showcased her ability to weave stories in verses before rising into aching, soaring choruses that hang on only a handful of perfectly chosen words or phrases. The audience were also treated to two songs from her next album, Ghosts of Highway 20. The title track and Dust, which used words from one of her father's poems, suggest her creative streak of recent years is set to continue unabated. Williams' band Buick 6 were something of a revelation, allowing the spotlight to fall on her when required but also possessing the energy and consummate chops to take things up a gear — whether it was the primitive riffing on Neil Young's Rockin' In The Free World or the reggae rhythms of Are You Down.
Over the two-hour arc of the show Williams visibly relaxed, laughed and danced to her own band. The faultless song selection and musical passion on display made for the best possible live experience of Lucinda Williams one could hope for.