In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, southern rock had a defined identity, a mystique of sorts embellished by dueling guitars, a snarling lead singer and a rebel-with-a-cause identification fuelled by a fierce love of Dixie and a defiance of damnation. Nowadays, that arched attitude has been replaced by a more populist perspective, one that strips away the barriers between artist and audience with a homegrown regimen as concerned with its integrity as it is with its insurgence. It’s a sound and style championed by bands like Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, the Dirty Guv’nahs and a host of other Southern outfits that have lately assumed the role of heartland heroes.
Into this mix comes Lucero, a band that readily identifies with a blue collar ethic, purveys an occasionally cranky attitude and maintains a fiery, uncompromising stance that turns every performance into something akin to a hell-raising revival. Frontman Ben Nichols’ gruff vocals and devil-may-care disposition create the perception that they’re likely up to no good, an image reinforced by their tattoo-strewn limbs, a brash, back alley-like demeanor and an intimidating presence that suggests shit is neither given nor taken either way.
That persona is especially pronounced, as well it should be, in Lucero’s first live album, an extravaganza of sorts that brings the essence of their execution front and center before an audience filled with obvious adulation. With no less than 32 songs spread over two discs, the full extent of their down home delivery comes to absolute fruition. Songs such as “I Can Get Us Out Of Here,” Texas & Tennessee,” “Union Pacific Line,” and “The War” offer testament to both their tenacity and resolve, as instilled by an authenticity that clearly comes from within. And while the connection with the audience is unmistakeable, the primal emotion is equally emphatic. Lucero rocks with an intensity that’s real and often revelatory, making this one of the most vital live albums any band has ever offered. And we ain’t just whistling Dixie.
– Lee Zimmerman