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During this late summer evening, the first signs of autumn were evident in the Badger State’s capital. Citizens and visitors mingled, enjoying all that the city had to offer from fine eateries, university-chic coffee houses, and the interspersed taverns and bars of beautiful downtown Madison. On this night though, my focus was on local venue The Frequency and its back-of-house performance area to enjoy the musical stylings of Ms. Lydia Loveless.

The back room was quite small, packed tightly with shoulder-to-shoulder attendees from as far away as the Twin Cities—a very enthusiastic crowd well-versed in Loveless’ work.
Like most artists with a new album, her repertoire this night was heavily focused on the recently released Real, performing seven of its ten tracks.  Though the room was small it featured lush, outstanding acoustics which made it sound and feel as though they were playing in a huge venue.

Three notes into “Head”, the crowd let out a delightful cheer; then, a misstart on one song prompted Loveless to stop the band, saying, “Sorry, that’s not how that song begins, you’d think I’d have it down by now, but that sometimes happens when someone else writes the songs.,” an ironically amusing statement given she writes all her own lyrics and music.The\ singer had a warm rapport with the crowd, sometimes introspective, and even a bit wry and feisty.

The surprise of the evening— Loveless agreed to perform her song “Steve Earle”, a very rare treat. However, she equated her willingness to perform it with agreeing to a particularly uncomfortable sex act. Trust me, dear reader, I spared you the details. Even so, it was amusing to this writer and many in the crowd. Ms. Loveless is known for habitually being risqué, both in her music and in her performances, so for those in the know this is no surprise really—but, If you don’t like pushing the envelope, then do you really like rock n’ roll?

On this night, the audience witnessed an outstanding set from an artist, who, with her new album Real, has taken her songwriting to an astounding, forthright, and awe-inspiring next level. It is that excellence that should soon make Lydia Loveless a household name.

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[This lovely review was crafted by Hunter MacLeod, part-time freelance writer and full-time international man of mystery.  Catch up with him on Twitter–@MadH_MacLeod.]


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