Hollywood, CA June 21 2006 Review

Tone and Groove
The Twilight Singers/Afterhours/Jeff Klein
June 21, 2006- The Avalon, Hollywood, CA

The Twilight Singers ended their US tour with a show in Hollywood on a Wednesday night, and what a show it was. Regrettably, I got there too late to see Jeff Klein, whom I have heard good things about. Jeff is going to continue with the Twilight Singers on the European leg of their tour, and I advise you not to miss him.

The second opening band was Italy’s Afterhours, The Twilight Singers’ One Little Indian label mates and a band that is starting to achieve some deserved international recognition. A tight, fun, interesting mix of rock and traditional Italian folk, this band has had several popular albums in their own country prior to releasing thier latest, Ballads for Little Hyenas. At first I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of these guys, but they really won me over. Singing songs in both English and Italian, this talented group kept you interested not only in the songs they played, but in the varied instruments they used to play them – including the electric guitar-bass-drums standards to violin, keyboards, and (forgive my complete ignorance) a strange looking horn-like wind instrument. Their second song, “White Widow”, is a song I have actually heard on local radio and really enjoyed without even know it was them, and by the response of the audience I’d say a fair number of others had heard it too. Towards the end of their set they added a traditional song that allowed the keyboardist to come out from behind his keys and take up the aforementioned wind instrument, then stroll through the audience like a roving troubador while never missing a note.

Afterhours’ enthusiasm was apparent not only when they played their set, but when The Twilight Singers took the stage: Afterhours band members could be found moving randomly through the audience and cheering just as enthusiastically as the rest of us. Their lead singer/guitarist also assumed keyboard duties for The Twilight Singers’ set, making a long evening for him but an enjoyable one for us.

Opening the set with “I’m Ready” from their latest album, Powder Burns, The Twilight Singers came out swinging and never stopped. Greg Dulli is a completely engaging frontman, his between song quips and banter make you feel like an included confidant, in on a joke shared between friends. A pretty amazing accomplishment considering the size of the venue, which seemed crammed to capacity. The band themselves were spot-on and engaging to watch, often making audience eye-contact, and the drummer was maniacal (in a good way).

The show rolled on for a little over two hours, the majority of the setlist concentrating on songs from the last album, Blackberry Belle, (these songs were the most widely recognised by the crowd), and the best of the new album. The covers thrown into the mix were completely engaging (Dulli ‘confiding’ in us that when he was young, Aerosmith had been one of his favorite bands – then with a sly smile he admitted, “Still are, kinda”). Afghan Whigs fans were treated to two of their songs,( I’ve been told those are rarely played), and Martina Topley-Bird’s “Too Tough To Die” was an early highlight. Guest appearances by Jeff Klein on guitar and vocalist Joseph Arthur added to the fun of the evening.

Returning to the stage for the encore, Dulli asked the audience to go back to a time where there was no internet, and to pretend we didn’t already know what was coming next. With that he assumed keyboard duties for a rendition of Gnarles Barkley’s “Crazy” – a song which I’ve heard too many times lately to have any affection for, yet somehow when they played it it was completely fun. The encore came to a close with the guest appearance of singer Mark Lanegan on the last four songs, the standouts there being “Black is the Color” and “Deep Hit of Morning Sun”, though it was Lanegan’s rendition of “Where Did You Sleep Last NIght” that had most of his fans singing along.

Altogether a great night. I highly recommend seeing this band live – I’ve only seen them play once before, and that show, featuring a guest spot from Prince’s gal Apollonia Kotero, was just as enjoyable as this one. I hope I get another chance, soon.

The Setlist:

I’m Ready
Esta Noche
Too Tough to Die
Bonnie Brae
66
Fountain and Fairfax
King Only
Teenage Wristband
Dream On
Love
Annie Mae
There’s Been An Accident (featuring Joseph Arthur)
Candy Cane Crawl
Let’s Get It On
Papillon (w/When We Two Parted)
Martin Eden
Forty Dollars

encore:
The Killer
Crazy
Underneath the Waves
Live With Me (featuring Mark Lanegan)
Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (feat. Mark Lanegan)
Black is the Color (featuring Mark Lanegan)
Deep Hit of Morning Sun (featuring Mark Lanegan)

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