If this had just been a Lucero set in High Point, I’d probably have skipped it — rolled my eyes at their booker and stayed home to drink beer and watch the Olympics. But Lucero and Glossary? Oh, hell, no, I wasn’t missing that. Glossary put out one of the finest albums of 2008 for free, and the last time I saw them Joey gave me a copy of For What We Don’t Become for free, too, because I was broke and enthusiastic about how awesome they were. Lucky for their finances, I’d already paid for Feral Fire and my ticket this time around, but they were just as wonderful as I remembered them being. It’s always nice to see Beene come out from behind the pedal steel and rock it on the guitar (and sing!), and Joey and Kelly always sound so great together. The new songs hold up excellently in concert, and “Blood On The Knobs” remains in my top 20 songs of all time. (They didn’t play it. I just felt it was worth stating.)
The lights were white, pure white, last night, and I can’t remember the last time I shot a show in pure white light. It was weird, and disconcerting. NO ONE IS PINK. I don’t know what to do with this. And at the same time, while they were white, they were also not quite strong enough for the space, so I spent a lot of time monkeying with shutter speed to maximize light while minimizing blur and out-of-focus. I failed hard a lot; I had some trouble with focus on the 100mm, and I think I need to sit down and give it a good cleaning.
I love Lucero, full-stop, but I sometimes forget that I require three things to be working in concert to enjoy them live in an optimal way: my mood, the crowd’s mood, and Ben’s mood. We swung and whiffed on all three yesterday; the crowd sucked (dear High Point, I believe in all ages shows and I believe in Ben Nichols and I believe that never the twain shall meet, thank you very much) and the venue didn’t seem to be policing underage drinkers very well, so there were a bunch of drunk kids being obnoxious in a totally different way than Lucero’s drunk crushes-on-Ben frat boys usually are. Ben was somewhere between charmingly sober and charmingly wasted, and spent a lot of the evening seeming off his game and distracted — at least to me. And I was tired and irritated by the underage drunks, because I’m old and GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DAMN KIDS.
So, you know, Lucero was great — they are a phenomenal live band, they are always great. The versions of “The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo” and “Kiss The Bottle” absolutely killed, highlights of the set. I just walked out and didn’t feel like it had been a very memorable night. It isn’t a bad thing; it won’t keep me from going to see them any time I can. It’s just something that I need to remember and police myself for in the future.
And you know what? I really missed the horns. I didn’t expect to, because so much of Lucero’s catalog is horn-less, but I did. They made a huge difference in the texture of the songs on tour last fall, and it was genuinely odd to hear the new album songs without them. Horns! Come back! You’re awesome!
(And worth noting, local open the Mighty Ohio were super enjoyable; tight harmony Americana a la the Jones Street Boys Station. I’m looking forward to seeing how they mature as a band.)
Not directly related to Lucero’s set last night, but damn, I forget how phenomenal Ben’s solo album is. It’s a compact and exquisitely crafted piece of visceral storytelling, and the parts where Beene’s pedal steel wails up over the guitar make my heart hurt, they’re so gorgeous. I listened to it yesterday after I’d powered through all my Glossary and Lucero and followed it up with Joey’s solo album, which made my 2009 year-end list, and they’re both such stunning testaments to the talents of those two frontmen. (Also doesn’t hurt: comparing the version of “Through The Screen Door” on Joey’s solo record to the version on “Feral Fire”; they’re incredibly different and both perfect.) Neither solo disc sounds quite like their bands, and neither sounds too far from them, either, and that’s wonderful. (Ben’s The Last Pale Light In The West should probably have made my 2009 list, too, but I forgot that it technically dropped in 2009, since I got it in 2008. Whoops.)
I initially wrote a long, entitled screed about things I expect from venues here, but it was totally unproductive and irrationally pissy, so I scrapped it. The Aquarius Music Hall is a venue that’s trying to fill a serious void in the Triad — a mid-size venue booking mid-major acts — and while I have a serious problem with the information (or, more accurately, the serious lack thereof — incomplete artist listings, no show start times or phone number) on their website, I have to give them props for having some serious booking nuts. It’s a gorgeous space and there’s always something to be said for ambition, so props to them.