Review: Lucero deliver whiskey-soaked soul to Czar in Ybor City
“I’ve been trying to behave on this tour, but not tonight,” said Ben Nichols, Lucero’s singer/guitarist, said halfway through their show Friday night at Czar. “We always have to do Florida last ’cause it kicks our ass.”
On tour for their seventh album (and major label debut), 1372 Overton Park, this was the Memphis band’s second trip to Tampa Bay this year. Lucero’s Florida fans are fiercely loyal and have always greeted them with open arms and shots of whiskey. The band has constantly rewarded that loyalty with discography spanning, hangover-inducing shows. This night was no exception.
Until now, Lucero’s sound was about a 50-50 split of punk and country. For the new album, they added another dimension to the mix: Memphis soul via a three-piece horn section. Throughout their almost 2-1/2 hour set, Lucero played a good number of the standout tracks from 1372 Overton Park, including What Are You Willing To Lose, Sounds Of The City and The Devil And Maggie Chascarillo. For the most part, the horns cut through the mix with brilliant precision, augmenting the already addictively catchy songs — though on some tracks, the horns had the opportunity to dirty it up and melted into the overdriven guitars.
To no surprise, the band took great care to fully integrate the brass into the bulk of their back catalogue as well. On older songs, such as All Sewn Up, Sixteen and That Much Further West, the horns blended perfectly into tracks that are regarded as anthems by fans.
Evolving is nothing new to this band. Through the years, while keeping true to their gritty roots, pedal steel guitar, piano and organ have slowly been added. Each new addition has brought a welcome depth to Lucero’s sound. Now it seems that with their newfound major label backing, Lucero can finally afford the horn section that they’ve been missing and wanting all along.
During the course of the night, the crowd hung on and sang along to every word. A constant flow of whiskey, beer and something Nichols said was “just plain awful” (but he drank it anyway) were delivered to the band via the audience. Lucero’s soulful country/punk intoxicated everyone there. To the delight of all, the band and the crowd fed off each other’s energy and emotion for the entire night.
-- Gabriel Loewenberg, tbt*