My Boys™ were back at Webster Hall. Not my favorite venue for them, especially on a Friday night. Webster Hall starts the live music an hour earlier on Fridays and Saturdays because at 11pm the show has to end so they can clear the audience out and become a dance club. Back in the old days when that venue was The Ritz we used to be able to stay after the bands were done and then dance the rest of the night away to a combination of Motown and New Wave. And before the band came on we’d be entertained by a huge screen on stage showing New Wave videos.
Another reason I don’t care for Webster Hall is because the sound can get muddy. Plus it’s a big space and since I don’t stand right in front of the stage I lose some of the intimacy that I want. Who doesn’t want to be intimate with Lucero?
I got there very early and got the spot that rtb had seen earlier in the week – two platforms sitting on top of each other. Much higher than the bass trap we usually sit on and it was against the back wall with a perfect view of the entire stage and the entire club.
Also a view of all the wires under the sound board.
The problem was how was I ever going to get up there. It would take more than a boost from a friendly stranger. Then I saw the bar stool tucked in the corner between the platforms and the bass speaker. Now we had a stepping stool up. Because I was so high up I felt like a lifeguard. People starting asking me questions about the club and directions to the balcony. The bartenders saw me and laughed. When I got a drink I found out that Webster Hall doesn’t have Ketel One (how is that possible?). The bartender offered me a choice between Grey Goose and Stoli. I dissed the Grey Goose, which he agreed with. I took the Stoli and then he said he did have Absolut but in a tone the assured me that he knew I didn’t want it. Then he offered me a double, which I figured would be convenient because then I wouldn’t want have to leave the platform too often. I don’t know how well that plan worked – I ended up having three double Stolis.
While waiting for rtb and violaleeblue I enjoyed the music – Motown, soul, and R&B intertwined with Elvis Costello and other new wave acts. It was almost like the old days.
I took a photo of the stage while rtb and I were waiting for the opening act. The guy who decided to be in the shot asked me to take a photo of him and his friend, which I refused on the grounds that I had no idea who they were.
I knew I had seen J. Roddy Walston and the Business open for Lucero before. rtb reminded me that it was at Governor’s Island in July 2010. If I hadn’t remembered them before I would have as soon as I saw all that long hair being flipped and thrown. I think they opened with “Don’t Break the Needle.” I’m not familiar enough with their songs to give you a set list. During his set J. Roddy told the crowd that Ben does a better show when he drinks Appletinis instead of whiskey. Later in the set Ben came on stage and set an Appletini on J. Roddy’s upright piano. During Lucero’s set, Ben warned the crowd not to buy him an Appletini. I don’t think I’ve had as much fun with Appletinis since Scrubs.
The Business is old school southern blues rock. The floor was pretty packed for an opening act and most of the crowd knew all the songs. Unfortunately they suffered from the opening act bad mix syndrome. They ended their set with a Led Zeppelin song. I can’t find a list of the band. J. Roddy Walston played upright piano and electric guitar, there was one long haired guy on electric guitar, one long haired guy electric bass, and one short haired guy on drums. I think violaleeblue got there after the The Business were done but she did see Lucero’s full set.
It gets more and more difficult to find new things to say about Lucero. Not because of them but because of my limited vocabulary. They play a kick-ass show that manages to please the old fans and the new fans at the same time. Despite the fears of many of the long-time fans, the incorporation of the horns does not take away anything but only adds an accent that you didn’t realize was missing from the older songs and completes the newer songs. Their mix of hard rock and arena rock with some Memphis R&B and soul delights me. And Ben Nichols’ (vocals/guitar) heartfelt lyrics – whether he’s singing about a lost love or a drunken night or both – combined with his voice where you can hear every shot of whiskey and every smoked cigarette makes every woman want to be the one to mend that heart and makes every man want to live a life that full. Brian Venable (lead guitar), John C. Stubblefield (electric bass), Roy Berry (drums), Rick Steff (keyboards, accordion), Todd Beene (pedal steel), Jim Spake (saxophone), and Scott Thompson (trumpet) make each of the songs sing in way that I am sure that could never happen with any other combination of players.
My only disappointment of the night was that I wish there had been a mention of Levon Helm and maybe even a song in his honor. I know Lucero performed “The Weight” with Guy Venable at the Fillmore but it sure would have been nice to hear something like that in NYC also.
Because I was too far from the stage I couldn’t tell how many requests Ben filled. My seat was great for the view but not so great for getting ‘close’ to the band. It also looked like Ben didn’t get a lot of free shots and he didn’t seem to get that drunk – always a good thing. Also there were only one or two incidents of beer throwing from the crowd. Are they maturing?
My wish is that the next time Lucero comes to NYC they play a smaller venue – Bowery Ballroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg, or Bell House. I like my boys up close where I can see every expression on their faces.
The second song was from the latest album so when they finished with the intro the new banner came down.
Ben solo with Rick and Todd
Ben and Todd