May 25th, 2009
Alright, so first of all, I’m an idiot. Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears were the opening band for Lucero. Not the other way around. But I’ll claim ignorance on this one, on numerous fronts. Didn’t know either band well enough to know who should be supporting who. Oh well, I knew from listening to a sampling of both that they both had a good amount of good stuff to offer. I was not disappointed. Let me just say, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears tore it up! The crowd was a bit slow to fully recognize the whirlwind of a band before them. But damn, when you’re that tight, even single-celled organisms gotta give it up. They ratcheted up the energy with each song and by the end of the set, Black Joe Lewis and his stellar band had the crowd screaming for more. You can’t ask for more than that. An opening band who is not only worth showing up for, but who leaves you wishing for an immediate reprise of a headlining show? Goddamn! They were good tonight.
And yes, I was surprised–I truly had no idea BJL&TH were the opening band. Regardless, a short break later, Lucero took the stage and launched into their gritty, no-pretense set of well-crafted southern-tinged rock-n-roll. These guys are not pretty boys, they’re not gonna be anyone’s camera darlings. But that’s not to say they’re ugly dudes–they’re just normal dudes. Talented, skilled dudes, no less. And they played to a room of fans and friends. And it only woulda been better if I’d stumbled upon this show at an Elks club in Boise, Idaho, or something. It was that kind of ‘miller beer’ commercial feeling nights. Not commercial as in product, but as in the comfy, common-sense vibe you get from an ol’ skool Miller commercial. Definitely not a bad thing. That’s very nearly the exact type of welcome I’m sure either of these bands could only hope for.
So it took me a few days to get this up, but I’ve taken the long (and lovely) weekend to listen to each bands’ latest recorded efforts. And no apologies, I immediately love, and need, Black Joe Lewis’ “Tell ‘em What Your Name Is”. This is the serendipity of a perfectly-timed album and season. And with the weather Seattle’s having right now, there could not be a more celebratory album, that also manages to fade comfortably into each dusky evening. Just awesome.
I’ve given an equal listen to Lucero. Not my requisite 10 full listens, but a good solid listen to the full album. It’s good. Much better than I, or most others, could do. But it doesn’t grab me much–mostly for the same reason the show didn’t stick with me…Ben Nichols’ voice is one flavor of gritty, barroom rockin’ growl. It’s just that I’ve gotten that for years from Social D, Mark Lanegan, and Tom Waits, and Ben just sounds like their younger brother. The band doesn’t seem to stretch out enough to take advantage of Rick Steff (recently of Cat Power’s “The Greatest”) keyboard additions, and despite the legion local Lucero fans, the show didn’t seem that energetic to me. I’d still go see Lucero anytime I stumbled upon them in some convenient, unsuspecting locale. I just wouldn’t go much out of my way. But I bought their latest, and I’ll listen to it. Maybe I’ll regret the missed opportunity of seeing them before I really appreciated them. We’ll see.