Concert Direct – Metro Review
The Metro in Chicao, IL
November 12, 1998
Written by Jeff Keele
Two and a half years after sweeping Chicago off its feet with the lush sounds of the “Black Love” tour, the nomadic Afghan Whigs finally made their way back to the City of Big Shoulders. Despite the most impressive back catalog on the shelves, the Whigs remain (commercially) relatively unknown. Despite that fact, their underground allegiance remains as loyal as a fine dog. Selling out two Chicago shows as well as four in New York, it seems a case of “the kids know what the grown-ups don’t understand”. After a fun mix of house, funk and ambient dub swept through the air, it was time to see what we all came to see….Greg Dulli and the rest of one of the greatest bands on Earth—bar none.
A little recorded jazz number led into simple act of the Whigs strolling onstage. Quickly ripping into an energized funked-up version of “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”, the band already had the complete attention of the packed Metro house, a hold they would not relinquish for the next two hours. “Somethin’ Hot”, which leads of their new Columbia album “1965” highlighted lead singer Dulli’s suave impact. The new record carries the singer’s penchant for lust and good trouble to an even higher degree than previous records. As he crooned “Baby you don’t know, just how I lie awake, and dream awhile, about your smile, and the way you make yo ass shake.” Dulli is everything you could want in a singer-part Isaac Hayes, part Al Green, part Eddie Vedder and all suave as hell. The powerful “Debonair” from 1993’s “Gentlemen” light the room up next as Dulli and Company parked themselves up front and had the crowd rising and falling with every break in the song, and to see an audience sing every word for two hours is a powerful sight. Two funky lusty numbers, “Uptown Again” and “Neglekted” followed next. While guitarist Rick McCollum played the wah-wah like Hendrix at a blues revival, bassist John Curley continued to lay down bass lines funky enough to infiltrate any Sly and The Family Stone number. On “Neglekted”, Dulli smoothly declared “I knew a girl- extraordinary, suggested something-unsanitary…”.
The opening strains of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” got the room bumping and grinding as Dulli howled the lyrics like a wolf in heat. The song was woven into the powerful “Going To Town” from 1996’s “Black Love”. The beautiful slow number “When We Two Parted” was up next and was followed by a rousing crowd favorite “My Curse”. For the latter, they introduced the lovely and talented Ms. Susan Marshall who sang this lovely number to the polite and delighted crowd. A brief walk through some Pink Floyd led to the conflagration of “Blame, Etc.”. Most of the crowd sneered right along to the words “my lust it ties me up in chains, my skin catches fire at the mention of your name…”. The song’s dramatic tempo changes really highlight that this is a band as electric as Nirvana but as soulful and funky as Prince or Barry White. The old “What Jail Is Like” sparked a note of pleasure with the crowd.
The awesome opening drum and bass line of “66” signaled yet another leap into the suave and debonair side of the band as Dulli sang “you walked in, just like a smoke, with a little come on, come on, come on in your walk, well, come on, I’ve been waitin’, are you waitin’, for my move, well I’m makin’ it…”. Yes he certainly was. The hands-on-ass pose met with a little Dulli bump and grind, much to the delight of every woman this side of frigid. The post-orgasmic lyrics continued to find the legion of fans moving in time. After a quick peek at Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”, the band was introduced. That formality concluded, it was time for a very charged performance of “Fountain and Fairfax”-the ode to addiction that seems to strike a chord in many an Afghan Whigs fan’s heart.
The enjoyably verbose Dulli told a tale of how he lived across the street from the Metro in 1991, and while he couldn’t get a job there, he did manage to get in free and score a couple of Old Style’s now and again. He said that after Sub Pop gave him a little money to write some songs, he wrote this next song—“Conjure Me” from 1992’s “Congregation”. Dulli sang “I smell your blood my love, but I can’t taste it yet, I have your mind but I can’t waste it yet.”. The Afghan Whigs said thank you, hope to see you tomorrow night, and left the stage. After what seemed an eternity, the band returned to do “Citi Soleil” after some jerkoff kept yelling that the “Reds Suck!”. Unfazed, Dulli continued to spin yarns that led into the New Orleans flair of “Citi Soleil”. A number by the Twilight Singers, of which I am not very familiar, was up next. Closing with the sexy and haunting “Omerta”, the band relished in their control of this crowd. After nearly 15 minutes of teasing the crowd with another encore, the band opted for the after-party at “Joe’s Place” upstairs. Alas, until tomorrow, the Afghan Whigs can only be heard on your CD player. With another Chicago show tomorrow and one Saturday in Milwaukee, one can only hope that “Be Sweet” will be heard soon…”‘cuz I got a dick for a brain…”.
Special thanks to The Afghan Whigs for a brilliant evening (again!); Meredith Borakove and the entire “Congregation” list; Kirsten Hansen (who made the trek from New York-every tour baby!) and Joe Shanahan and his Metro staff.