Helsinki 06 Review

8 Tracks
Written by Taru Lindfors

“Have a drink with me”. That was Greg Dulli’s invitation for an intense two and a half hours show in a packed Tavastia club. The night was hot and cigarette smoke filled the air. It was one of those nights when everything seemed to be right, when the band and the audience connect through the music. It is a special night; it is not just another concert. It is The Twilight Singers at their best.

The long summer night started with The Others opening with bare set of covers. The Others are 22 Pistepirkko playing songs written by others. The trio played a set based on the songs from The Troggs, Link Wray, The Kinks and Buddy Holly among others included in the album Monochrome Set. The approach is rural and simplistic, putting aside any pop arrangements and ornaments. In any case, the set is fresh and appealing.

Unexpectedly, before The Twilight Singers show started, the band’s keyboardist and guitar player comes on stage to play some songs alone with his electric guitar. Klein showed he is a talented songwriter and singer with the obscure romanticism of Jeff Buckley or Leonard Cohen.

Finally, around midnight Greg Dulli and the rest of the band took the stage. The concert starts with energy and attitude close to The Stooges. I’m Ready and a blistering version of Esta Noche is a slap in the face to start the party.

Dulli is a charismatic band leader by nature. Always with a drink and a cigarette by his side he explores the different sides of his music. He knows how to manage the show, when to rock, when to sorrow. He is seductive and provocative.

The concert is mostly based on songs from the two Twilight Singers original songs albums, Blackberry Belle and the recent Powder Burns plus an array of covers that are perfectly adapted to the Twilight Singers sounds in spite of having so diverse origins as Massive Attack and Bruce Springsteen.

With The Twilight Singers Greg Dulli has emphasized the cinematic narrative of his songs. The music fits into the crime scene of a film noir. It is in this dark narrative style where Dulli’s melodies become really powerful, like in Teenage Wristband and The Killer.

The band does not stay behind. It is a bunch of very solid musicians and at this point of the tour. They are relaxed and confident with the material they are dealing with. When the show is rolling at full steam from the shades a tall figure appears. Almost like a ghost Mark Lanegan grabs the microphone and starts singing. He is the opposite of Greg Dulli. He does not show any external expression or movements. Dulli is cocaine, Lanegan is heroine. Outstanding is the moving version they perform of Ledbelly’s tradional song Where Did You Sleep Last Night (better know by the Nirvana version).

In spite of the fact that The Afghan Whigs days are long gone, Dulli still plays some songs from his previous band, like Fountain and Fairfax, 66 and Crime Scene Part One. These songs are just a bit of the great legacy of the Whigs in the nineties.

The show does not lose its intensity at any moment. The band increases the soul side of the music and Dulli becomes like a punk Barry White or drifts like a drunk on the piano while surprisingly delivers the lyrics of Springsteen’s I’m On Fire or the Gnarls Barkley’s hit Crazy (funny enough it is not The Afghan Whigs song).

It is also the time for Lanegan to make another of his ghost appearance and recreate in Black Is The Color of My True Lover possible the most intense moment of the night. It is hard to find flaws in the show when the band is digging his time on stage. They have such a blast that, knowing this was possible one of the best shows of the tour, they decided to come for a second encore when some of the people were already leaving the club. Hopefully, as Dulli said, it won’t take another 17 years to come back to Finland.

Setlist
toward the waves
i’m ready
esta noche
bonnie brae
too tough to die
live with me*
where did you sleep last night*
flashback*
fountain and fairfax
66
king only
teenage wristband
there’s been an accident
candy cane crawl
papillon/buick mackane
crime scene part one
martin eden
forty dollars

encore 1
hold your head up
i’m on fire
the killer
crazy
sideways in reverse*
black is the color of my true love*
deep hit of morning sun*

encore 2
underneath the waves

The Twilight Singers
Tavastia, Helsinki
12th of August
Tickets: 30 euros

**** 1/2

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