Andre Williams has not just one new album, but two — plus an EP. You wouldn’t necessarily have known that from his concert Friday night (March 23) at the Hideout, however. Backed by the Goldstars, the suave-looking and foul-mouthed Williams played a set similar to the shows he has performed over the past couple of years. Like those past shows, this one offered up a lot of good, raunchy fun. The band (including a fine horn section) cranked out solid, old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll riffs with exuberant energy and without many frills, while Williams intoned his profane stories about sex, vice, potato chips and jailbait in his trademark half-sung, half-spoken gravelly vocals.
Unless I missed something, I don’t think he played many or any songs from his fine new album on Bloodshot, Hoods and Shades, on which producer Don Was gives Williams’ songs an acoustic, bluesy, almost jazzy setting. Williams calls it his “folk album.” The musicians on these Detroit sessions include Matt Smith, Funk Brother Dennis Coffey, Jim White, Greasy Carlisi and Jim Diamond.
Williams also has a new EP called Nightclub out on another Chicago label, Pravda, which captures him playing with his regular touring band, the Goldstars. And although Williams didn’t even mention it during Friday’s show, he has yet another new album coming out May 15 from Yep Roc, Night and Day, featuring Williams backed by one of the world’s best bands, the Sadies, plus cameos by Jon Langford, Sally Timms and others. That one’s a belated release from some sessions Williams recorded in Detroit in 2008, but the lively tunes give no hint as to why they’ve been sitting on the shelf for so long.
That’s a lot of activity from this 75-year-old stalwart of Chicago’s music scene, and Friday night, he showed no signs of slowing down.
The opening act was Jon Langford’s Skull Orchard — yet another one of Langford’s many musical endeavors. Last year, Langford reissued the first Skull Orchard record and played some shows with a full-size Welsh men’s choir, including an appearance at the Hideout Block Party. Friday’s set was a smaller-scale affair, including songs from the first Skull Orchard record as well as 2010’s Old Devils, with solid accompaniment from guitarist Jim Elkington and Langford’s usual cohorts in the Waco Brothers, bassist Alan Doughty and drummer Joe Camarillo. The band even played a song from one of Langford’s other old bands, “Death of the European” by the Three Johns.