Live at Triple Door – Pitchfork
Idle hands are the devil’s playthings, goes the saying. Considering all his demons, is it any wonder that Greg Dulli keeps himself busy? Four albums with the Twilight Singers in six years, his ongoing collaboration with Mark Lanegan as the Gutter Twins, long days spent on the road and long nights spent on stage: post-Whigs, Dulli’s been a pretty busy guy.
Still, there are lulls, and those lulls must be filled. Last year, between a Twilight Singers tour and the Gutter Twins’ debut, Dulli appeared at two benefit shows for the Vera Project, a Seattle music and arts center, performing mostly stipped-down versions of Twilight Singers songs. Of course, there’s only so far down you can strip a personality as outsized as Dulli’s, but the experiment did alter his usual context. Clearly Dulli thought something of the two nights as well, as now about a year later he’s distilled the tapes to a solid digital-only live disc– surprisingly, his first live record– which captures him at a transitional but no less compelling stage.
Right off the bat, “The Killer” shows off Dulli’s formidable presence– the performer’s intense vocals alone nearly matching the song’s studio bombast. The same goes for Dulli’s rendition of “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”, which is less dense than the version found on the Twilight Singers’ She Loves You but no less powerful for it– especially once you factor in the creeping violin of guest Petra Haden. “Candy Cane Crawl”, from Power Burn, is Dulli at his dark best, while “King Only” is presented with a radically different arrangement that (by necessity) jettisons the skittering drums, horns and other atmospherics and (more impulsively) tags on a nod to Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”.
Dulli being Dulli, that’s not the extent of the covers included here. Live at the Triple Door includes Dulli’s first stab at Jóse González’ “Down the Line”– now a live Dulli staple– as well as a fusion of George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity” with Donovan’s “Atlantis”. It also includes versions of “Tonight”, from the Afghan Whigs’ 1992 breakthrough Congregation, and “Front Street”, subsequently recorded with the Gutter Twins. The addition of songs such as these lends the disc a truly archival quality, with Dulli straddling past and present while confidently peering ahead to the near future.
– Joshua Klein, November 12, 2008