LIVE REVIEW: Lucero, Will Hoge @ O2 Academy, Newcastle (04.12.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Will Hoge has a problem with his country’s President and it shows in a set of fiery acoustic tracks, like Oh Mr Barnum and the Skynyrd-esque Still A Southern Man. Thoughts & Prayers pulls no punches in its mocking of the oft-quoted meaningless claptrap spouted by politicians in the wake of another mass shooting, and Hoge’s delivery and affable approach wins him many new fans and would-be voters.  

If whiskey couldn’t slow down Lucero and Ben Nichols, then marriage and a child never stood a chance either. He may be a little more sober, but the band have just released their best album in years and those raw tracks justifiably dominate tonight’s set. Nichols’ songwriting remains dark and introspective, though he deals more in characters these days, such as on the broody opener Among The Ghosts. At the other end of the spectrum – or bottle – Always Been You is perhaps the most tender song he’s written. Tears Don’t Matter Much, the punkiest of their country-punk tunes, is always a highlight and whilst newer track Everything Has Changed may sum up the band’s off-stage lives, on stage they still neck whiskey contributions and Nichols’ voice still retains that Tom Waits-esque rasp that has never sounded so good on an a capella Last Pale Light In The West.      


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