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Dynamic performance combines recycled material with new

The Badger Herald/a>
by Brett Myers

Fresh off the release of their debut album Saturnalia a week ago, the Gutter Twins have hit the road to try out their material for the public. Following sold-out warm-up gigs in New York and San Francisco, the Gutter Twins’ latest stop was a Sunday night performance for an at-capacity crowd at the High Noon Saloon.

The twins whom the band’s name refers to are grunge-era survivors Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli. Accompanied by a four-piece band, the duo performed a set so blistering and fiery — literally, given the duo’s prolific chain-smoking abilities — that those in attendance were quick to forget the winter weather lingering outside.

Taking the stage dressed like they just came from a funeral, the Gutter Twins wasted no time as they plowed through the first three tracks on Saturnalia. The album’s first song, “The Stations,” sets the tone for the whole album, and the band’s no-nonsense approach to their music was evident from the beginning as they went from song to song like a well-oiled machine, without so much as a breath in between.

Though Lanegan and Dulli rose to prominence with their respective bands in the ‘90s, this is not the first time the pair has worked together. The duo originally came together as the Twilight Singers, a side project started by Greg Dulli, whose band members make up the current Gutter Twins’ touring troupe. Not surprisingly, their set at the High Noon was sprinkled with Twilight Singers songs, the first of which — “Live With Me” — was played only four songs into the show.

The evening continued with some of Saturnalia’s strongest offerings, including “Seven Stories Underground,” “Idle Hands” and “Circle The Fringes.” The stark contrast between Dulli and Lanegan presented itself as the night wore on as Dulli, who also played guitar, was seen hopping about the stage while Lanegan, dressed in black from head to toe, remained motionless and clutched the mic-stand for dear life.

Fully exploiting Madison’s smoking ban loophole for “theatrical performances,” nearly everyone on stage chain-smoked as the Gutter Twins finished out their first set with a mix of songs including Saturnalia’s “I Was In Love With You” and “Each To Each,” along with a few Twilight Singers numbers. Abandoning his guitar for a keyboard, Dulli thanked the Madison crowd for attending on such a cold night before launching into the Twilight Singers’ tune “Down The Line.”

As the Gutter Twins exited the stage for their encore break, the crowd grew louder and louder as they awaited the band’s return. Granting the audience’s wish, the six musicians, all wielding fresh cigarettes, returned once more to the stage. Kicking off the encore was Dulli, who gave a sullen but heartfelt rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Though their set list had seven songs left for their encore, for reasons unknown the Gutter Twins decided to cut the show short and perform only four. Though this was by far the show’s biggest downside, the disappointment was tempered by the fact that one of the four songs was an incredibly well-received performance of “Methamphetamine Blues,” from Lanegan’s critically acclaimed 2004 solo album Bubblegum.

As the final notes of “Methamphetamine Blues” came to an end, the band went into their final song of the evening, the last track off the Twilight Singer’s album Blackberry Belle, titled “Number Nine.”

While the Gutter Twins shine on Saturnalia, their presentation of old material coupled with the new gave a greater insight into who these men are musically. Although Dulli and Lanegan are arguably two of the most underrated singers in the music industry, their vocal harmonies reached soaring levels unheard of for most and became one of the crowning achievements of the evening. Following such a strong performance, everyone in attendance was certain that whatever step the Gutter Twins take next, it is sure to be a pleasing one.

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