Lucinda Williams at the Bowery

WHEN: August 6-7, 2012

HIGHLIGHT: Bringing the Bowery to its knees with two completely different, jaw-dropping sets

A few songs into Lucinda Williams’ first of two nights at the Bowery Ballroom, I decided I’d have to stop by the box office on my way out – I had no intention of missing a second night if the first was already this great. Nobody could have blamed me. Lucinda was at the top of her game here, filling the sold-out room with that unmistakable voice and her often chilling lyrics. When a song like the “Unsuffer Me” reached its close, the space between the last note and the applause extended longer than usual – the mark of an audience floored by what they’d just witnessed. Fans around me whispered to one another, saying how they hadn’t seen Lucinda like this in years. She was, to borrow a phrase, “bringing down the house.”

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Waiting outside the Bowery on night two, and still reeling from the night before, I wondered how long I’d be able sustain this musical coma I’d been put into. Surely Lucinda would repeat many of the same songs, and the shine would have worn off some by then. To my surprise and humbled awe, that wasn’t the case. It was a new setlist altogether, and this one was louder, more distorted, marked by gritty renditions of “Joy” and “Real Live Bleeding Fingers.” I couldn’t believe my luck. And when she sang “I Just Wanted To See You So Bad,” it was hard not to feel like she’d been saving these two perfect shows just for us – the city that had missed her.

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