Friday, October 15, 2010

Greg Dulli, Violins, Cellos, John Curley, (Double Door 10.14.10)

My wife and I have seen Greg in recent years playing on 2 tours with Twilight Singers as well as with Mark Lanegan in the goth trudge of Gutter Twins. So there were a few strange things to note about this show. Greg took the stage in the 11 o'clock hour, not past the witching hour which he has the other times. In this stripped down version of the songs there was less of an emphasis on the gloom of some of the songs and more an attempt to showcase the lyrics. Greg played acoustic guitar and had cello, violin and bass to accompany him. Definitely a shift from his previous performances. For me, this worked, but I wonder what this sound would be if he would not have had the acoustic guitar and stuck with the strings. I think they canceled each other out a bit. The cello and violin are inherently more emotive instruments alone than the acoustic guitar. But I applaud the attempt to keep it fresh. I think the main idea was to showcase Greg's impressive song-writing, which sometimes is lost because his vocal delivery is so instant and overpowering. Greg played a good mix of songs from his solo effort Amber Headlights, as well as Twilight Singers' songs. Halfway through I would say this quieter sound had worked well... until he introduced the guest bassist, John Curley. Yes that John, the same that played in Afghan Whigs with Greg. Now the crowd was really amped and started chanting John's name. One would expect Dulli fans to know full well who John Curley is and realize why this had turned into a memorable show at this point. They easily slipped into several Whigs songs and some other songs as well, including my favorite song of the evening "Bonnie Brae". They also played a cover of Bjork's "Hyperballad".

Toward the end someone fainted up front. Go figure, the temperature in there was bearable and they have the fancy big fan above the audience at Double Door now. I remember feeling faint at a metal concert there in the summer once. Greg asked if they were okay and then said he needed "a clean-up in aisle 4".

The band left the stage and the crowd kept the constant cheer that started when Greg introduced John. After a handful of minutes spent cheering loudly they came back out and played a few more songs for which John joined the band again.

This show proved Greg understands he can't always be the dark anguished figure in the corner. Don't get me wrong, I like that Greg, but I also love some of the more nuanced music he has put out as well. I will always remember this show for John and I think Greg was well served to add John half-way through. He knew the way the crowd would react and this boost ran high till the end of the encore. It's obvious there is a lot of magic with the paring of John and Greg and it leads Whigs fans to logically question whether we will see a fully re-formed Afghan Whigs band in the near future. Up to a few years ago, I would have said an emphatic 'no' with not only the words that Greg said about a reunion but also with the way he said them. He was sure that there would be nothing to be added by them reforming. This always surprised me a bit because the quality of Greg's musical ventures, as well as Staggering Statistics and Moon Maan - the other Whigs spin-off bands were also very good. These guys never seemed from my outside position to be really angry with one another. They seemed to be one of the few bands that truthfully said musical differences made them stop making music. We all know usually there are bigger broken relationship issues that contribute to the music stopping. Maybe the band gets together again and gives the old motor a try to see how she runs. I certainly hope so.


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