buy the afghan whigs in spades

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London 06 Review – Kerrang!

8.22.06 Scala, London
Rating: KKKK
Reborn Gunge Rockers Take London

In-between fronting the Afghan Whigs and now the Twilight Singers, Greg Dulli’s done everything from buy, manage and successfully run his own bar to accidentally punch-out the doctor who revived him after a near fatal drugs overdose left him unconscious on an airport terminal floor. He’s well-qualified to sing about life’s highs and its lows, and if he knows anything about the in-between then he’s wise enough to realise it’s not worth telling. That’s why people still flock to watch him perform live, at least.

Tonight, especially, as the inclusion of Mark Lanegan doubles the number of mercurial cult heroes on the bill and bumps the venue up a size. Lanegan’s intermittent contributions leave the crowd wanting more, but suitably reflect his character: he is solemn, imposing and holds unnerving focus while the Twilight Singers shake, rattle and contort around him. As Dulli cracks the sky with anguished howl, he closes his eyes and barrels home his lines. It’s like being hit by a runaway train firing through a busted dam of hot molasses. That he rarely makes it out of the mix cleanly speaks volumes for the raw chemistry on show; the set can afford to fray around the edges and still everyone remains captivated.

Two hours and two encores later, Dulli’s suavely wound things down by shoring up behind the keyboard for a couple of solo numbers, but not before he’s snatched a cameraphone from the frow row for a personalized snapshot and, slightly surreally, dished out health tips to a punter who sneezes on him. “Take vitamin C,” he advises with mock-seriousness. Such playfulness, coupled with the starkness of his darker material, makes the dose that he, his band and Lanegan are pushing tonight feel like a wickedly illicit hit from a masterfully controlled substance.

Alistair Lawrence

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