Greg Dulli

An Evening With Greg Dulli at The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA, March 10, 2016,

Mar 29, 2016 Web Exclusive
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Opening night of the North American leg of Greg Dulli's "An Evening With..." tour kicked off in Cambridge, MA on March 10. You can trust Dulli, he's a consummate showman. So when the first couple of numbers seem a little shaky as the band is finding its feet and sound onstage, there's no need to worry. Such issues are greatly overshadowed by the excitement of the opening song being "If I Were Going," first tune off The Afghan Whigs' classic Gentlemen album. Any teething problems are sorted out and long forgotten by the time fourth song, "Bonnie Brae," begins. Dulli really digging into the guitar riff and there is a perceptible lift in the room, "a rapture" indeed. This keeps apace into another Twilight Singers' song, "Papillon," and the band has definitely now found their swagger.

"I know it's dark, and I know I'm beautiful, but please resist the urge to use flash photography." Dulli's always cool-as-fuck but on this point he's insistent. There was even a warning before he took the stage that such disturbances would be show-stoppers. Early on he singles out some disobedient soul in the back and even remarks "C'mon, didn't we go through this shit at [Boston venue] The Paradise about a year ago?" (where sure enough someone had kept on snapping pics until Dulli finally asked them to leave). But such talk also points to why Dulli is such a great entertainer. For him it's not just another city on another tour, he remembers his connection to this particular audience and engages with them accordingly. There's no scripted between-song-banter. Dulli is in the moment and this sets him ahead of the competition whilst being much appreciated by his die-hard fans. Later on as the scent of marijuana drifts through the crowd he remarks "How's that joint? Smells great up here. I'm sure it's medicinal."

Song seven is "Step Into the Light" from The Afghan Whigs' phenomenal Black Love album, which turned 20 years old this March 13th. Dulli introduces it with the story about a friend of his, in attendance this evening, who convinced him to put it on the record. And we're all thankful he did. There's a joyous feeling in the room, despite the melancholy of the music being played, and this continues into "Black Is The Colour of My True Love's Hair." Even the blonde girls were singing their hearts out, their gazes fixed firmly on the figure onstage. Atmospheric guitar and piano swirl the haunting mystical energy of a desert evening as Dulli begins pulsing on the acoustic to build and launch into "There's Been An Accident."

Dulli then takes the piano for the next trio of songs, kicking off with singing the lyrics to "My Funny Valentine" over "She Was Stolen." It should be noted that his voice is in good shape and particularly effective when he goes soaring to the high notes this evening. Up next is a new song that would not have been out of place on 1965 with its bluesy-funk feel and lovely major key middle eight section. "It Kills" from the last Afghan Whigs record finishes off his stint on the keys, complete with cello and a powerful low end.

Back on the six strings, Dulli now has to deal with a litany of requests. While it's disappointing when we learn that "Crime Scene will not be played on this stage tonight," we know we can trust him when Dulli says "don't worry, we'll show you a good time." And then he launches into The Twilight Singers' version of Martina Topley-Bird's "Too Tough To Die." This is followed by "So Tight," the first song off his 2005 solo effort. "Ten years ago I put out Amber Headlights and then never played any of the songs on it," he shrugs, "cause I was waiting for tonight." Then it's the Whigs' "Can Rova" before an ecstatic version of "Summer's Kiss." The band stretch out the opening of this Black Love favorite, clearly enjoying themselves. Dulli, as is his wont, jokingly sings the opening of The Beatles' "Yesterday" then he's bent down by his mic stand taking it all in as the audience continues a wild prolonged cheer. There is palpable joy in the room as everyone is shouting along to what is truly one of the finest rock n roll love songs. The set ends with the Twilight Singers' "Number Nine."

Soon they are back out with Dulli again at the piano. A very moving rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Paper Thin Hotel" and Dulli knows it as he pounds down the final low octave bass notes and lets them linger. Recapturing the feel from "Summer's Kiss," "Teenage Wristband" finishes off the night with a euphoric crowd shouting along.

"An Evening With..." offered a look at Dulli's entire oeuvre from a different angle. Sure, some of the "hits" were missing (judging by the shouts, everyone in attendance would've loved to have heard "Crime Scene Part One" or "The Killer") but in the end it didn't matter. No one was even remotely disappointed in what we did get. Seen from this perspective, the performance opened up an even greater appreciation of the man's talent and reintroduced us to some very good songs that may have somehow been overlooked in the past. And Dulli's parting words of "see you next year when I'm back with my rock band" assure us there's much more greatness to come. 




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