Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers frontman Greg Dulli cruised through Dallas last night to play a stripped down set from his storied catalog. Joined by longtime mainstay, guitarist Dave Rosser, multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Rick Nelson, and a bass player whose name I didn’t get (sorry dude), Dulli played a powerful selection of songs from the Whigs, Twilight Singers, and a few covers. Bouncing between acoustic guitar and keyboards, Dulli was in a delightful mood. As a long time fan, I kind of miss the days when Dulli’s stage banter was endless and hilarious, but on this night banter was at a minimum. Not to say that he didn’t engage with the crowd, because he certainly did. He’s Greg Dulli after all.
Opening the set with the Twilight Singers’ “The Killer,” the band built to a slow, yet eventually suspenseful roar that bled into “The Blackbird and the Fox.” Songs from the Afghan Whigs were relatively sparse, “Step Into the Light” and “Summer’s Kiss” from the Black Love album and “It Kills” and “Can Rova” from 2014’s Do to the Beast were included, but Twilight Singers songs seemed to dominate the set. “Martin Eden,” “Teenage Wristband,” “King Only,” and “Bonnie Brae” were warmly received by the crowd. By warmly recieved, I mean massive crowd sing-a-longs. Covers of Marvin Gaye’s “Please Stay (Once You Go Away)” and Martina Topley-Bird’s “Too Tough To Die” were particularly strong and showed a group of musicians locked in and flawless on the arrangements. The highlight for me was the cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Paper Thing Hotel” that Dulli covered back in 2012. Behind the keyboards, Dulli was plaintive, passionate, and vulnerable. The combination of these elements truly bring the song to life, resuscitating it from an unjustified obscurity. If there’s one thing Dulli has proven over his career, it’s that he can rework nearly any song and turn it into his own.
It’s also worth noting that Dulli’s singing voice seems stronger than ever. Perhaps because he didn’t have to sing over electric guitars and drums, or maybe his voice is aging like a fine wine; whatever the case, if you’re a longtime fan you’ll know what I’m talking about if you catch him on this limited tour. If you’re less familiar with Mr. Dulli, just check out any of his work with the Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers, or even the Gutter Twins (a collaboration with Mark Lanegan) and then buy tickets to his next gig near you. It’s a sad reality that few people endure in the music industry for as long as Greg has and still bring the passion and performance at the highest level. But, Greg Dulli is a professional. He always does his job at 100% effort. There’s never been a show that any of his bands have ever phoned in. This record of consistent live performances has earned him a reputation many of his peers unfortunately lack. You should witness it yourself. So get your tickets and get your stroll on, baby.
– J. Kevin Lynch