Memphis alt-country/cow-punk outfit Lucero boasts a dedicated fan base nationally and in some tour stops like Austin, a love fest is assumed imminent when the act that has spent the majority of the past ten years on the road comes through town. Friday evening at ACL Live at the Moody Theater was just that, a gritty, rollicking fan love fest featuring more plaid shirt, trucker-hat wearing beardos than you’d find in the hippest section of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood.
Current tour sponsor, Sailor Jerry blends seamlessly with Lucero’s drunken, tattooed, rockabilly ethos. The assumed drunken performance by Lucero is a bit of a red herring these days as we suspect there is not as much drinking and drunkenness as in the band’s early shows. Formed in 1998, most of the members are in their mid-40s and have toned down the partying as they’ve aged. Vocalist Ben Nichols said as much as the show neared its close proclaiming, “We used to play until I passed out, but I can’t do that so much anymore.”
The performance was split into acoustic and electric sets with an intermission diving the show in half. The drum riser was pushed forward behind guitarist and vocalist, Ben Nichols with John Stubblefield (bass), Brian Venable (guitar) and Rick Steff (keys. organ) flanking him while the band ran through rarer songs in their 10-album catalog leading off with Went Looking for Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles from this year’s’ release, All a Man Should Do.
Steff is a bit of ringer as a late addition to the band, formerly playing for Hank Williams Jr. after stints with Dexy’s Midnight Runners and as musical director for Cat Power’s “The Greatest” tour. The Grammy-winning keyboardist adds Southern rocker credibility to an already impressive lineup.
The slow build of the acoustic set served to set the stage for an electric set that was, well… electric. The audience bought in big raising their cups to toast Raising Hell and not just because the lyrics mention Austin, but that didn’t hurt. The first verse:
well my little brother’s raising hell
living down in texas
he probably ought to be in jail
from the stories that he tells us
of whiskey nights and rodeos
the strippers down in austin
he’s had himself some real good times
if he could just recall them
As the set neared its close, anthemic Tears Don’t Matter Much made a welcome appearance. The crowd lustily joined in with the chorus while Lucero rolled through the track.
Nichols claimed it was one of Lucero’s better shows. That may have been a moment of euphoric hyperbole but the group did perform for over three hours (acoustic and electric sets combined), often to raucous shouts and hollering. Nichols promised the Moody crowd they would “finish like they started,” as the group returned to the stage for a mellow three-song encore that included The War, All Sewn Up, and My Girl & Me in ’93.
Lucero have five remaining U.S. tour dates before the year ends including tomorrow evening in Pensacola, Florida:
12/15/15 Pensacola, FL Vinyl Music Hall
12/16/15 New Orleans, LA Tipitina’s Uptown
12/17/15 Little Rock, AR Revolution Music Room
12/18/15 Little Rock, AR Revolution Music Room
12/19/15 Memphis, TN Minglewood Hall