For one member of Lucero, Saturday night’s show on the Budweiser stage at Riverfest was a homecoming of sorts. Frontman Ben Nichols grew up in Little Rock and told the crowd, “I’ve been coming to Riverfest for a long time.”
This time, instead of standing in front of the stage, Nichols was on it, backed by bandmates with a horn section in tow. A brief rain had cooled things down and the sun setting behind Little Rock’s skyline provided a great backdrop for what turned out to be a solid rock show.
It took a while for the sound engineers to get the mix right. What used to be a simple four-piece band has turned into an all-out production, including keys, pedal steel, trumpet and sax. Sound issues aside, the band rolled through an hour and fifteen minutes of fan favorites, starting off with “That Much Further West” and ending with a rollicking version of “All Sewn Up.”
The instrumentation added to the band’s music over the past couple of records has added depth to Lucero’s brand of country rock, but at times takes away from the spontaneity and immediacy that characterized their earlier live shows.
Saturday’s set included a good mix of rockers (“The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo,” “Tears Don’t Matter Much”) and ballads (“Goodbye Again,” “Nights Like These”). For the final song, “All Sewn Up,” the band was joined by North Mississippi All-Stars and Black Crows guitarist Luther Dickinson. What’s usually a punchy rock song turned into an extended jam session with each member of the band taking a solo. The big finale was definitely a crowd-pleaser, leaving Lucero fans satisfied while winning over the we’re-just-here-to-see-the-Black-Crows contingent.