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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lucinda Williams @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse

Thursday, July 3 @ the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse

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When Lucinda Williams headlined at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse at Summerfest Thursday night, she had every intention of being heard above the fireworks, musically and otherwise. But the sound from the neighboring Miller Lite Oasis and its headliners, the dub/acid jazz duo Thievery Corporation, kept spilling over into her party of alt-country tunes.

“It’s disconcerting and frankly it’s starting to piss me off,” she growled, adding, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to do anything weird.” Like walk off. Fortunately, her two-hour-plus performance saw her mood lift. She even cracked a smile at times. Rocker that she is, the 55-year-old tackled some surprising gems and nuggets from classic rock’s past.

Starting out on acoustic guitar, Williams gave a plaintive performance of “Passionate Kisses” before being joined by her four-piece band, which included veteran guitar wiz Doug Pettibone (hardcore fans saw Pettibone step out to join supporting act Alejandro Escovedo on a rollicking cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden”).

Despite the noise bleed, Williams ably showcased a number of new tunes from her upcoming album, slated for a September release.Songs like “Well, Well, Well” and “Circles and X’s” marked Williams’ return to a more traditional country sound, and balanced out new rockers like “Real Love” and “Little Rock Star.”

The recognizable bass lines and electric organ blips of The Doors’ classic “Riders on the Storm” appeared toward the end of her set before Williams made the song her own with her straight-forward vocals. And Williams cut loose with the show’s final encore, “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll)”—yes, the AC/DC song.

“Love, peace and revolution,” she called at the show’s end. Williams certainly displayed those sides and more, creating her own fireworks long after the dark summer sky had cleared.