The Music Hall of Williamsburg, located in the heart of one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, was filled with sounds, looks, colors and vibes that brought me back to the South of the United States.
Tennessee songwriter Cory Branan is a punk rock boy with a country inflection and a poet’s heart. Although his records often feature a full band, he played an entire set by himself, armed with his acoustic guitar and his witty lyricism. His songs are personal and romantic, dealing with intimate life experiences, travels and other ideas. There is even room for some light-hearted numbers such as “The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis,” which was one of the highlights of the night in its energetic acoustic rendition.
Soon after the end of Cory Branan’s excellent and heartfelt opening, Lucero took the stage seamlessly, opening with a track from their recent album, “All a man should do.” The track paved way to a mellow and poetic set. Ben Nichols, lead singer and songwriter of the band, has a gravelly voice that tastes like whiskey and cigarettes, but there is also a very poetic and emotional undertone to it, which defined the entire mood of the show.
After a first half of the set characterized by the presence of fan favorites such as “That Much Further West” or “Texas and Tennessee”, Ben Nichols traded his old acoustic guitar for his hollow body electric, kickstarting the second, more upbeat part of the set. The band engaged the crowd with a blend of southern rock, honky tonk, and even punk and rock and roll. Songs such as “Tears Don’t Matter Much” and “Nights Like These” prompted the audience to dance and sing as passionately as I’d ever seen.
By the end of the night, being surrounded by smiling faces and uplifted spirits, it was clear that Lucero are still a great live band with the power to create a beautiful, intimate connection between their audience and their music.
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