You can’t love rock ‘n’ roll and not love Ben Nichols whiskey soaked voice. The lead singer of Lucero‘s gravelly, soulful sound is the perfect instrument for his band’s knock ‘em dead tunes. As the guitars, drums, keyboards, and horns swirl around his emotive wail, you find yourself thinking this is what a ROCK show is supposed to be about: Gritty, cathartic, sweaty, and exhausting.
The Tennessee band brought their latest road trip to the Vogue Thursday night in support of Women & Work, their ninth album. For two hours, Nichols and his band mates brought the passion. As I tweeted mid-set, Lucero is a band that, live, really makes you FEEL the music.
I hadn’t seen the band play in about four years, so this was my first exposure to the lineup with horns. Verdict? Killer. The new wrinkle added an E Street-like layer of fullness to their sound. The classic Nights Like These never sounded so impressive. Bikeriders and opener Sounds of the City were propulsive blasts.
Lucero should really consider recording a live album. New songs are like Women & Work and Juniper are fine, but they breathe and explode live. Live is also where Lucero surprises, dusting off gems like Hearts on Fire and the Glossary’s Bruised Ribs.
Lucero is a band that understands the cathartic power of live music. By the time they closed the main set with Sixteen from Nobody’s Darlings, I felt like I’d been born anew.
Opener Jonny Corndawg was also impressive. Jonny Fritz and his cohorts tore through their wacked-out Country & Western set like a roadhouse band on speed. Though the lyrics are often high comedy, the band plays with the utmost sincerity. Anchored by Fritz’s emotive tenor, the package works. Songs like Dog on a Chain and Ain’t It Your Birthday have an addictive bounce you’d have to be dead not to appreciate.
I can’t remember the last time I danced as much at a show — and I see more than my fair share. One of the best concerts of the year.