It didn’t take long for Lucinda Williams to show her true colors during her show Sunday night before a crowd of about 500 at Crossroads KC.
About a minute into her opener, “Blessed,” she stopped the song and summoned a member of her road crew to come out and adjust the stand that carried her notebook of lyrics. It turns out the stage lights behind Williams were reflecting too brightly upon the lyrics sheet. In her thick Southern drawl, she apologized profusely, admitted she was embarrassed, and then apologized again, though the interruption lasted a few seconds more than a minute.
The incident had little affect on the rest of the nearly two-hour show, which focused heavily on her latest two albums. But it revealed, unintentionally, what lies within an artist who has been candid and unfiltered about her life, and not just through her songwriting.
The show had a heavy blues emphasis and some gospel, too, starting with “Blessed,” a bluesy hymn and the title track to her 2011 album that comprises a litany of declarations of faith: “We were blessed by the homeless man / Who filled us with love / We were blessed by the hungry man / Who filled us with love.”
She and her three-piece band, featuring guitarist Stuart Mathis, followed that with “Protection,” an appeal to a higher order for protection from all things bad: “the enemy of love”; “the enemy of good”; “the enemy of kindness”; “the enemy of rock ‘n’ roll.”
The set list ignored some of her best and more timeless songs, drawing only one song each from her three best albums: “Pineola,” a song from “Sweet Old World” about the suicide of a family friend, which Williams sang like the wound was still raw; “Side of the Road,” a track from “Lucinda Williams” about the need for some solitude and isolation; and “Drunken Angel,” the story of songwriter Blaze Foley, from her breakout “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” album.
Other highlights: “West Memphis,” a song inspired by the wrongly convicted West Memphis Three, which ended with a long, bluesy jam; and “Bitter Memory,” a country shuffle from her latest album, “Ghosts of Highway 20”; the song “Ghosts of Highway 20,” which Williams described as a sequel to “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”; “Doors of Heaven,” a song inspired by the death of her father, the poet Miller Williams; “Essence,” which included a stormy band jam; and “Foolishness,” an impassioned plea to banish from her life moral crimes like racism, sexism, ageism, poverty and hunger. She made that one personal and political, too, tossing in a jab about Donald Trump and his wall, giving her audience one more peek into her heart and mind.
Blessed; Protection; Pineola; West Memphis; Drunken Angel; Bitter Memory; The Ghosts of Highway 20; Side of the Road; Ventura; Can’t Close the Door on Love; Doors of Heaven; Dust; Out of Touch; Unsuffer Me; Essence; Foolishness; Joy; Rockin’ in the Free World.