By Chuck Cox
And even when she did stop a song and start over again, the crowd was hanging on every note of the first of two sold-out shows the veteran performer is playing on her first trip to the killer Oak Cliff venue. The second show is Friday night. And it’s a pretty safe bet she’ll be back again after raving about the venue several times during her performance.
Williams, who combines a voice absolutely made for country music and some deeply introspective lyrics, shined through her two-hour set that included John Denver (“This Old Guitar”), Bob Dylan (“Tryin’ to Get to Heaven”), and Hank Williams (“Cold Cold Heart”) covers, along with some of her strongest material, such as “Pineola,” “Fancy Funeral,” “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road,” “Sweet Side,” and “Honey Bee.”
Accompanied only by guitarist Doug Pettibone, Williams brought to life the songs of a country girl who grew up all over the south, running the full gambit of joy, pain, love, and loss. Perhaps the most impressive thing about seeing Williams perform live is the way she masterfully can go from a quiet ballad to a full-on jam with the greatest of ease. She also debuted a few new songs — “Place in My Heart,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” and “Joy,” from the West of Memphis soundtrack. Williams continues to show just why she has become such a respected performer by peers and fans.
The only bad part about the show, for me, was trying to figure out why I had not seen Williams play live since 1995. Tuesday’s show will be pretty tough to top. Even after two hours, I could have listened to her play for two more. I also got to meet her after the show, which is always cool. She was exceptionally friendly and accommodating.
Members of the Kenneth Brian Band opened the show. And while their stripped-down show was solid, I get the feeling a full-on performance by the Alabama band with a rhythm section would be pretty spectacular.