Lucinda Williams is a storyteller in song. Her latest album, 'Ghosts of Highway 20', is a collection of fourteen songs, tracking back through memories and influences, connected by Highway 20. It’s a map of her life. It explores her personal sense of place.

She has the soul of a poet, like her father, and a dark country singer’s heart. Born in the 1950s, she mixes those post war sensibilities with a wealth of experience and talent.

Her career span thirty-five years, and she has gathered many fans along the way. There was a great turn out in Sheffield, on a ‘school night’. This was a treat not to be missed. The Plug was packed with those who cared. It’s a dark and dirty venue in the best tradition of rock music. Shoes stick to the floor within minutes.

Buick 6 had the support spot. As Lucinda’s backing band, they were perfectly placed. Coincidentally their new album is called ‘Plays Well With Others'. Their mostly instrumental set was fantastic, raising echoes of the best of sixties psychedelic rock. Stuart Mathis on guitar, Butch Norton on drums and David Sutton on bass are mesmerizingly good. For me they took on the torch once held by Zappa, Beefheart’s Magic Band, Country Joe’s Fish, the Electric Flag, Booker T and Santana. You get the picture. It’s rare to hear an instrumental set and it was something special to open a remarkable evening of music.

After a short break, they came back on stage with Lucinda. Her voice is so distinctive, her accent and singing style transport you to a foreign yet familiar land. She looked a little nervous. In fact they all looked like they’d been on the road more nights than is good for anyone, in the best tradition of rock and roll. She introduced new songs in among the old favourites. She talked between the songs and it wasn’t always easy to catch her stories. She talked about her own old favourites, about songs interpreted by other musicians and the pleasure she took in that, about songs that resonated with one another for audiences on this tour, about her father the poet, about Buick 6. We could all hear those car wheels on the gravel road as they took off down that metaphorical highway.

'Staring with Protection', she followed with 'Pineola'. 'Drunken Angel' was cheered by the audience. Then 'Burning Bridges', 'Those Three Days' and 'Can’t Close the Door'.

She sang 'Ghost of Highway 20' without the band. She and Stuart Mathis played 'Lake Charles', another favourite with the audience. After 'Side of the Road', the band came back on for 'Cold Day in Hell', 'Steal Your Love' and 'Doors of Heaven'. She introduced 'Dust' telling us how it was based on one of her father’s poems. 'Essence' took us to a dark and dangerous place in a personal passion. 'Foolishness' was full of a different kind of passion. The urgency and energy of her performance and its political and personal message had everyone in the room fired up as she denounced the fear mongers and the pie in the sky false promisers, racism, sexism and Donald Trump.

The energy of her performance moved into another gear after this, and her voice seemed to open up too. Perhaps she had been conserving her strength. Perhaps she was getting into her stride. It had been a long set, especially for the band, on stage for close on three hours. When they came back on for the encore there were a few glasses of red wine on stage too. 'Honey Bee' was followed by a great version of the Clash’s 'Should I Stay or Should I Go?' Of course we wanted her to stay, and the last song was another perfect cover, Neil Young’s 'Rocking in the Free World', an anthem for these times.

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