Twilight Singers Warehouse Live Studio June 1, 2011
The Afghan Whigs are probably one of the most underrated acts to come from the grunge period, but they had all the best lines, a dynamic musical presence, plus one of the most delightfully rusty and eloquent voices in lead singer Greg Dulli. Most bands from that same era get the credit and love they deserve, but for some reason, the Whigs only connected with a small segment of the population.
And that's exactly why Dulli's follow-up to the Whigs, The Twilight Singers, works in 2011. It's morose, mopey, and expertly crafted rock featuring one of the darkest songwriters of the past 20 years. Dulli never met a gut-wrenching situation that he couldn't turn into a platter of dark matter live. Whigs discs like 1993's Gentlemen and 1996's Black Love are testament to that.
Wednesday night's Twilights gig in Warehouse's Studio room mostly showcased the last two albums and handful of singles from the band, which as of late has hit a stride artistically. Leaning mostly on this year's Dynamite Steps and 2006's Powder Burns, the set saw Dulli and the band taking a delicate touch to the material, but giving it a nice char nonetheless
Opening with "Last Night In Town" from Dynamite, they struck a menacing pose, with Dulli and his two men upfront, guitarist David Rosser and Rick Nelson (Houston native and sometime Polyphonic Spree violinist), lit like cherubs in the small venue. At times looked like a disembodied head singing dirge songs above the crowd.
Live, the Twilights are two guitars, bass, drums, and either violin or keys. It makes for a swelling experience. Openers Margot & The Nuclear So So's are on that same track, and themselves brought out a healthy fan contingent. Their set was a great build-up to the Twilights, acting as almost a little-brother band to them, with Margot's Erik Kang making a few appearances during the headliners' set.
Nelson's violins made it's first grand stand during "Bonnie Brae," with Dulli instructing Nelson to play it pretty for Houston. Nelson's family was in the crowd, and Dulli even injected a few lines of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" onto the band's "Never Seen No Devil" to appease Nelson's mama.
In truth, lyrically it's one of the brothers Gibb's most sadistic and creepy songs, and fit in all too well with Dulli's modus operandi. Covers album please. Hell, bring around your old friend and Gutter Twin Mark Lanegan to sing "I Started a Joke." We would buy it twice.
The one-two punch of "Too Tough To Die" and "Decatur St." sealed the deal for the evening by the halfway point of what would end up being an 18-song set. Dulli wasn't the dour soul he is on record when he was conversing with the audience, and he was a gracious host.
The set would close with "The Killer" and "Gunshots," with the first cut seeing Dulli on keys, the song's throbbing pulse was the perfect coda to the evening. True closer, "Gunshots" from Dynamite, snapped us back to 1993 and reminded us that Dulli's voice is one that will only get better with age and experience.
Damn, is Gentlemen really old enough to vote, buy cigarettes, and be in porn?
Personal Favorites: "On The Corner" "Fat City," "She Was Stolen"
The Crowd: People who saw the Whigs the first time around, including Rocks Off photog Jason Wolter, who saw them at the Abyss in 1993.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Cool Ed Hardy lighter, dude."
Random Notebook Dump: Greg Dulli looks a little too much like comedian/Marine Rob Riggle's twin brother.
Last Night In Town Fat City Forty Dollars Beginning Of The End Bonnie Brae She Was Stolen Cool Wooden Crosses Too Tough To Die Decatur St. Get Lucky Papillon Love Annie Mae Candy Cane Crawl Never Seen No Devil On The Corner
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The Killer Gunshots