It's tough to pass up a Saturday night rock show, especially when Lucinda Williams, aka the female Neil Young and Crazy Horse, is playing The Catalyst Club in Santa Cruz with her backing band, Buick 6.
Upon arriving, William's backing band Buick 6 is playing an opening set of their own. Comprised of Doug Petibone on guitar, Chet Lyster on keys and guitar, David Sutton on bass and the percussion skills of Bay Area resident Butch Norton, Buick 6 greased the crowd with a mix of originals and covers including a ripping version of "Cinnamon Girl" that allowed guitarist Pettibone to channel his inner-Neil.
After a brief intermission, the band returned, this time with the lady of the evening, Lucinda Williams. Kicking things off with "Real Love" from her soon-to-be-released album Little Honey, Williams closed her eyes and clutched the mic stand as she and the band immersed themselves in the song.
It took a few numbers for Williams and the band to gel, but once they did, they grabbed the crowd and journeyed through William's deep catalog and sprinkled in a few choice covers. "Essence" sequed into a cover of The Doors "Riders on the Storm" and then back. What may seem like an odd cover choice flowed naturally live, with bassist David Sutton providing the transitional bass notes and keyboardist Chet Lyster hitting "Riders" iconic chords, the band transformed the show into a private jam session.
That jam session grew more and more rockin' as the set progressed: new song "Honey Bee" was an ennuendo-laced rocker that allowed drummer Butch Norton to pound his kit through the floor of the stage. A strong set of songs from 2003's World Without Tears ended the set, including the blues-stomp of "Atonement" and the seductive guitar of "Rightously".
Returning for the encore, Williams and the band were greeted by the Mayor of Santa Cruz. Apparently, he's a big fan of Lucinda's work (even admitting to a 10 year crush on her) and proclaimed September 6th, Lucinda Williams Day in Santa Cruz.
Lucinda beamed a big smile and thanked the mayor for the accolade. With the crowd roaring approval, the band kicked the encore off with "Side of the Road" from her self titled Lucinda Williams album and "Are You Down" off Essence.
Two covers ended the show: "I Live My Life" by Fats Domino was a nice rocking version, but the real surprise was the cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top", complete with a guitar dual between Lyster and Pettibone and thunderous drumming from Norton.
If I had to complain about anything (and music critics have to complain at least about one thing, right?) it's that the new album Little Honey was not for sale at the merch table. The band played five smoking new songs off the album and the crowd ate them up, and probably would have ate up the chance to go home with the new album as well. I guess we'll have to wait until Oct 14th like everyone else.
Do yourself a favor and catch Lucinda Williams and Buick 6 when they roll through your town. It's rock 'n roll the way it was meant to be.