London 06 Review – Guardian

Guardian Unlimited Music
Betty Clarke

4/5 Stars

The nearest grunge came to glamour was Kurt Cobain’s baggy cardigans, with the furious tossing of long, lank hair passing for stage-craft for the likes of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. But nestling amongst the nihilism and drug-induced stroppiness of the Seattle scene stood the debonair leader of the Afghan Whigs, Greg Dulli.

Dulli was as much Rat-Pack raconteur as Generation-X rocker. Cigarette in hand, he’d opine, charm and entertain, his old-fashioned showbiz contrasting with the modern darkness of his songs. Nearly two decades on, and after releasing four albums under the guise of the Twilight Singers, Dulli remains the consummate showman. “I’m on my knees for you!” he shrieks, proffering himself to the crowd and turning his music’s seedy introspection into spectacle. His taste for unexpected covers, made apparent on the wonderful She Loves You album in 2004, remains too. There’s snippets of Amazing Grace, Echo and the Bunnymen’s The Killing Moon – turned blisteringly raw by Dulli’s sandpaper vocals – and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

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The arrival of fellow grunge survivor Mark Lanegan throws Dulli’s exuberance into sharp relief. The duo are making an album, and Lanegan is now an official member of the Twilight Singers. On Live With Me from the band’s recent Stitch in Time EP, Lanegan’s rich voice is perfection, his stillness and intensity startling. His murderous passion on Where Did You Sleep Last Night? survives Gulli’s attempt to make his stoical friend crack a smile by standing at his shoulder and staring at him, and Lanegan’s role as the straight guy to Dulli’s all-round entertainer looks assured.

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