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Lucinda Williams at Central Park Summerstage - New York City, July 17, 2002
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All photos 2002 by Keith Bergendorff

It was a very warm July night in New York.  I hadn't planned to come to this show, since it was on a weeknight, I disliked the venue, and I would see Lucinda a few days later on Long Island anyway.  But after seeing her amazing outdoor show in Pittsburgh a few days earlier and finding out the Central Park show wasn't sold out, I couldn't stand the thought of her singing so close by without me there to witness it.  I had to be in Manhattan for a meeting in the morning, but I also had a meeting at my office in Port Washington 20 miles away in the afternoon that I couldn't reschedule, so I spent half the day commuting back and forth to Manhattan.  Finally, I changed out of my suit & into my shorts and t-shirt at the office at about 6:00PM and took the train back into NYC.  After a typical kamikaze cab ride up to Central Park, I arrived at the will-call window just as Solomon Burke was winding up his warm-up set about 7:30.

The general admission asphalt-and-bleachers venue was jammed with people but I managed to wiggle my way through the crowd toward the front, hoping to spot Roger the travelling super-fan.  It was, luckily, much less densely packed up front than I expected, and I managed to secure a decent view just a couple of rows of spectators back from the stage, somewhat left of center.  Finally I spotted Roger off to my left and yelled over to him.  It took him a moment to recognize me, and then a big grin came across his face and he worked his way over to where I was standing.  I explained that I just couldn't stay away, and after some discussion of the previous night's show in Northampton and his upcoming travel arrangements, I offered to drive him to the show in Oyster Bay Saturday so he wouldn't have to take a bus from his hotel.


Lucinda and the band soon appeared.  They again opened with Drunken Angel, a little slower than usual, then launched into Car Wheels.  Once again, Lu's voice was strong and the band was hitting on all cylinders, although Lu seemed a little tired.  There were some minor problems with the sound and some feedback early in the set, which of course distressed Lucinda.  Once that was fixed and she was warmed up, however, she turned in a great show despite the uncomfortable heat.  The boisterous New York audience was wildly supportive of her new material, and Lucinda performed seven of her new songs with wonderful feeling.  Righteously featured a killer sax solo by a guest musician whose name I failed to get.  Many of the new songs were exquisite heartbreaking ballads that only Lu could write, including Ventura, Those Three Days, Over Time, and Fruits of my Labor.  The new "spoken" tunes Righteously and Sweet Side (where Lu builds up an extended crescendo in her rap) had many in the crowd up front dancing and cheering.  Lu seemed to be enjoying herself immensely by the end of the set and introduced not only the band but the entire crew, her bus drivers, the woman who made her guitar straps, and some of the Lost Highway people who were there for the show.  Lu & the boys did smoking versions of Essence and Joy, and the set closed with Get Right With God at the new faster tempo, with the whole band boogie-ing their asses off.










They did two encores, the first opening with Lu doing a great solo acoustic performance of Passionate Kisses and closing with the incredible new rocker, Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings (dedicated to John Entwistle), which really made the crowd insane.  The second encore closed with a sensual rendition of Howlin' Wolf's Come to Me Baby, one of my personal favorites.  We clapped and stomped and cheered for more, but the sponsor WFUV came out and told us they had to shut it down at 10:00.  Probably just as well, as I had to take a cab to a train to my car and then drive 35 minutes home.  I bid Roger a fond farewell and headed off into the night, getting home to bed about 1:00AM.

The set list:
Drunken Angel
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Out of Touch
Ventura (new)
Righteously (new)
2 Kool 2 Be 4-gotten
Those Three Days (new)
I Lost It
Sweet Side (new)
Changed the Locks
American Dream (new)
Get Right With God
(encore 1)
Passionate Kisses (solo acoustic)
Over Time (new)
Real Live Bleeding Fingers & Broken Guitar Strings (new)
(encore 2)
Fruits of My Labor (new)
Come to Me Baby

Thanks for dropping by and taking a look at my photos. Please get in touch with any comments or reactions!