Concert Review: Toronto 3/14/08

CANOE — JAM! Music
By JASON MacNEIL

TORONTO – If The Gutter Twins intend on going to hell, they better have room in their hand baskets for their fans.

Not to be confused with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Steven Tyler (The Toxic Twins) or The Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (The Glimmer Twins), the duo of former Afghan Whigs singer Greg Dulli and former Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan are The Gutter Twins.

And for 90 minutes early Friday night at Toronto’s The Mod Club, the tandem (and well-oiled support cast) proved the much anticipated debut album Saturnalia was sure as hell worth the five years it took to finally finish.

Self-described as the “satanic Everly Brothers,” The Gutter Twins got things rolling with The Stations, a dark and seedy yet Southern-like spiritual number that Dulli and Lanegan warmed up to as the near capacity crowd looked on.

Looking at the two musicians, they almost appear to be a contrast in styles despite working so well together. For most of the evening, with the lone exception being a slight grin at one of Dulli’s quips, Lanegan played the part of a stoic statue to perfection, never addressing the crowd but holding his own on God’s Children and the slower I Was In Love With You.

Dulli on the other hand was far more active, whether playing off the other band members or informing the crowd that Lanegan was having a good time. “Mark ain’t gonna talk to you I can guarantee you,” Dulli said following a great up-tempo cover of the Jose Gonzalez nugget Down The Line. “If you got a message for him you gotta give it to me!”

Regardless, references to hell, Lucifer and the underworld were found throughout tracks such as All Misery/Flowers and the bluesy aura of Seven Stories Underground. But while heavy metal relies on the symbols of pitchforks, pentagrams and horned, hoofed beasts to get its devil message across, The Gutter Twins opt for the spookier symbol blues great Robert Johnson may have sold his soul to.

While acknowledging the fact fans hoped to hear something they recognized, The Gutter Twins ploughed ahead with the heady, hypnotic Circle The Fringes before Dulli plunked himself down at a keyboard for the country-tinged Bete Noire, a tune that could have fallen off an album by ’80s country “supergroup” the Highwaymen featuring Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.

After one hour and a dozen songs, The Gutter Twins left the stage but returned for a hearty encore that featured several goodies beginning with I’m Ready, a song from Dulli’s other current band The Twilight Singers. Papillon, from The Twilight Singers’ Blackberry Belle album (which Lanegan appeared on) was another crowd pleaser. It was also here where Dulli worked in a few lines from The Joker, the Steve Miller Band staple.

Meanwhile, Lanegan, who has worked with Queens Of The Stone Age as well as Isobel Campbell in recent years, struck gold with the creepy, grunge-y Methamphetamine Blues off his 2004 solo album Bubblegum and No Easy Action.

After closing with Number Nine, Lanegan left the stage the same expressionless way he came in. Dulli thanked the crowd on his own behalf and then Lanegan’s.

Judging by the show, here’s hoping they stay in the gutter for at least another album.

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