Historic Synagogue at 6th and I
I’ve had an interesting relationship with Greg Dulli and his various incarnations: Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers, Gutter Twins, solo. A tip off from the estimable Christopher Brookmyre who name checked him once and dedicated a book to him once, he’s been a solid bet. He, and Teddy Thompson, are the two acts that I remember as getting me through my separation and divorce.
I’ve always thought that his material, and the delivery, had a sense of emotional urgency that when allied to the music created a great combination. Hope, for Saturday, was high.
And did he deliver? A qualified yes. His voice was wearing a bit, which was a bit worrying for three days into the tour. But when he sings, you can see why. He isn’t what I think I would describe as a technical singer; he sings honestly and from the heart. Bonnie Brae is not a melisma-filled song. It’s a from-the-guts throat rasper.
It was run through of his highlights, with a stripped down band. Him, a bassist, a geetar player, and Mr Multi Talent on piano, fiddle and bass. That, of course, meant the material was stripped down as well. The album version of Hyperballad (orig. Bjork) fills all the space in your head when you listen with headphones. This more spare version was not as full, but really made me hear it again in a different way, and that held true for a number of tracks he played. When he’s on form, he’s great.
Hence the title of the post. I was really enjoying the vibe of the evening. Bonnie Brae had, as usual, played havoc with my emotions. Then Mr Dulli invited the audience to its feet, reminding them to be kind and respectful. Most of them got that memo, except the beardie wanked two rows up who stood up in the pews and wouldn’t move, despite noticing that everyone esle was crowding the front and sides, leaving us seaters an unobstructed view. He was also committing the ultimate sin of wankerdom – wearing a ball cap indoors. At 10pm.
Him apart, it seemed like an eclectic crowd across age and (I’m guessing) income brackets. Two ‘middle aged’ gents behind us who were having the conversations of stunted 18 year olds for whom EVERTHING is SO IMPORTANT.
Well behaved, positive in the main (except you, middle aged high woman who groped every man she could see)
It made me think..
A number of things.
Coulda, shoulda been bigger. I don’t know that there’s another artist who occupies the niche area that Dulli does. Musically literate and knowledgeable, I don’t know he gets the credit I think he deserves. On the other hand, he plays venues that are nice to go to. I realized I like bands who occupy the 100 – 1000 seat venues more than the arenas.
His material has touched me more than I realized. There are songs he has that when I hear them I can place where and when I was that it had an impact on me.
He’s man who knows where he is in the world, and I think perfectly understands his relationship with his fans.
The utility instrumentalist – bass, fiddle etc – filled in a lot of gaps in the music in a way that made me appreciate how different instruments can really change the way you hear a track.
And lastly – I regret not grabbing tickets to the last Whigs tour. Shoulda shoulda shoulda. Every album has a so-so song, and every album has at least one track that is a must-keep. Artists like Dulli are few and far between, and we should appreciate him and his ilk. And play it very very loudly and sing along to the lyrics that you only just understand.
That’s another one off my bucket list.