Review: The Afghan Whigs
"Is this a rock 'n' roll city?" ponders Greg Dulli.
Now there's a question worth asking. The Afghan Whigs' front man is in particularly rambunctious form this evening. Full of knowledge, too. For instance, the Ohio music maker is well aware that it's James Joyce's birthday this week.
Later, he'll explain to us the real translation of the word 'encore'. "It's a French word for 'go mother***ing crazy to bring the band back!'" He's actually, erm, paraphrasing, we believe.
Here we have a group that said they'd never get back together; a ferocious band of alt /garage rock pioneers who, after 15 years and six albums, called it a day back in 2001.
It was an amicable split. We could discuss Dulli and friends' various side projects, but let's just throw out one for the pub-quiz enthusiasts in the crowd: Greg Dulli (49) was the only other musician to appear on the Foo Fighters' debut album, back when the band was more or less a Dave Grohl solo project. Wow.
Reconvening in 2011, the Afghan Whigs finally got around to releasing a new album last year (Do to the Beast). So, they're back on the road again, and for that, we should be eternally grateful.
We've also mentioned the Foos for a reason. After all, Dulli's fearsome, full-throated snarl is not entirely unlike that of Grohl's. Some voice on that chap, for sure; a proper front man.
Dulli won't be kept to the one spot, and as he shuffles from high-spirited, axe-wielding warrior to emotional, keyboard balladeer, a strong and consistently tight ensemble of players on each side, we're reminded that, when it comes to rock 'n' roll in 2015, there just ain't enough band leaders like this one. Full black attire tonight, too, in case you were wondering.
There's a fine helping of cello and violin in the mix. Handy thing about this most boisterous of guitar outfits is that they always remembered the importance of a magnificent melody. And so we have colossal riffs (Parked Outside), big, soulful choruses (Royal Cream), and E Street Band-like grooves (Teenage Wristband, from Dulli's Twilight Singers project). Dulli even tips his hat to some heroes of his (nice Jim Morrison impression, mate). A genial and generous show man, Dulli is in exceptional company, mind. Super band (love that drummer), super songs (John the Baptist is awesome live), super delivery. A super reunion, basically.