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LA Show Review – LA Times

Sex, sweat, cynicism from Dulli
By Natalie Nichols, Special to The Times

“I am too tough to die,” roared Greg Dulli from the El Rey Theatre’s shadowy stage on Wednesday, releasing each word with measured emphasis. The leader of the Twilight Singers stood at the microphone with cigarette and drink at the ready, as if to further drive home this image of invulnerability.

Indeed, the singer-songwriter has weathered many changes. In the ’90s he moved from Sub Pop chic to major-label prestige with his previous band, soul-infused alt-rockers the Afghan Whigs. Now he continues to make critically acclaimed recordings with the Twilight Singers, which began as a Whigs side project and features a rotating cast of band members and guests, such as fellow alt-rock crooner Mark Lanegan.

Playing guitar and keyboards Wednesday, Dulli delivered an energized, 90-minute-plus set of tunes drawn mostly from the Singers’ 2003 album, “Blackberry Belle,” and its recent “She Loves You,” a collection of songs by other artists that includes “Too Tough to Die,” originally by trip-hop chanteuse Martina Topley-Bird; Mary J. Blige’s yearning “Real Love”; and the traditional “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” made into a lusty, subterranean blues.

His ace quartet conjured up perfect quiet-to-loud storms of gothic rock-soul, twisting threads of R&B and funk with bits of expansive, ’70s arena-rock excess. Likewise, Dulli twisted snippets of hoary hits such as the Everly Brothers’ “Love Hurts” and Bette Midler’s “The Rose” into his own works.

The overall effect was his usual blend of sex, sweat and self-loathing, with vulnerable undercurrents that offset the stronger, more cynical sense that everything, even romance, is a transaction, and love an unreachable ideal.

And so, with his relentless pursuit of the light, Dulli proved a strangely hopeful prince of darkness.

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