Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lucero aboard the Liberty Belle

Ben Nichols
Ben Nichols is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, where in high school he played bass in the folk-rocking Harbingers and, with the same personnel, in Victory Garden. His next band, the punky Red 40, did well locally, but Nichols increasingly felt drawn to what he saw as the epicenter of good rock and roll music about 135 miles away, in Memphis, Tennessee. He relocated there and, still in his hardcore punk phase, played in Lucky Old Sun and Pezz. Nichols started experimenting with "cowboy" music and formed the country-rocking Lucero in 1998. Lucero has remained fairly intact since the beginning, featuring Nichols on vocals and guitar, guitarist Brian Venable, bassist John Stubblefield and drummer Roy Berry; Rick Steff joined Lucero on piano, organ, and accordion in 2006. Lucero's 10th and most recent studio album is 2015's All a Man Should Do.

If you are going to ride a party boat, it makes sense to enjoy a party band. Lucero tonight performed aboard the Liberty Belle as the boat cruised the New York City harbor. The alt-country band came on stage to the sound of Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee," appropriately recalling Lucero's hometown. Led by Nichols' gruff yet vulnerable vocals and powered by the ensemble's roots-informed jams, Lucero's lyrics studied life on the road, the workweek versus the weekend, and loves that were lost. Nichols' heart-on-sleeve vocals effectively managed two deliveries: either he sang rousing beer-toasting rockers, or he sang sad-soul songs that likewise might have led to increased bar activity. The 25-song set spanned Lucero's career, touching upon almost every album, and also included new, unrecorded songs. With no special effects, lighting or gimmicks, this performance was about as honest as it could get.

Visit Lucero at

  1. Can't You Hear Them Howl
  2. Texas & Tennessee
  3. Last Night in Town
  4. My Best Girl
  5. Went Looking for Warren Zevon's Los Angeles
  6. Union Pacific Line
  7. Throwback No. 2
  8. (New song, title unknown)
  9. Loving (Ben Nichols cover)
  10. Downtown (Intro)
  11. On My Way Downtown
  12. Women & Work
  13. Darken My Door
  14. 1979
  15. Banks of the Arkansas
  16. Tonight Ain't Gonna Be Good
  17. Chain Link Fence
  18. Nights Like These
  19. Slow Dancing
  20. The War
  21. Last Pale Light in the West
  22. (Title unknown, Ben Nichols a cappella)
  23. Tears Don't Matter Much
  24. Drink 'Till We're Gone
  25. Fistful of Tears

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