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Review: Lucinda Williams and Amos Lee

July 17, 2011 - Andy Gray
It was a perfect night in Cleveland Saturday, the oppressive heat earlier in the day giving way to a clear, comfortable evening.

Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica may be the perfect outdoor summer venue. It had been awhile since I’d been there, and I’d forgotten how striking it is with the Detroit-Superior Bridge and the Cleveland skyline serving as the backdrop for the performers on stage.

And it featured a perfect double bill with Lucinda Williams and Amos Lee.

Lucinda Williams can be hit-or-miss live. Those heartaches and demons that produce such achingly truthful songs also can lead to the over-indulgences that cause sloppy, rambling performances.

Not Saturday. Williams’ voice, admittedly an acquired taste, if anything sounded better live than it does on record, whether she was demanding her “Joy” back, being “Righteously” sultry or singing about her “Buttercup.”

Williams isn’t a flashy performer, but she commands attention with the strength of her songs, the force of her voice and a top-notch backing band.

Williams joined Lee during his hour-long set for “Clear Blue Eyes,” which she sings with him on his latest album, “Mission Bell.’’ That disc has a laidback, summer vibe, making it a fitting soundtrack for the evening.

Backed by a five pieced band and two singers, Lee mixed songs like “Cup of Sorrow” and the magnificent “Windows Are Rolled Down” from “Mission Bell” with older material, all delivered in his pure tenor.

The venue will be different and I can’t vouch for the weather, but Williams and Lee will be in Pittsburgh tonight at Stage AE. It could be the perfect capper to the weekend.


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