Greg Dulli owned the night with a rapturous performance in New York City.
A little bit of smoke in the sky, it’s late in the evening. This was not “An Evening With Greg Dulli,” this was “The Twilight Singers are here to take you on a motherfucking ride!”
Dressed in all black, ex Afghan Whigs front man Greg Dulli took the stage and upon seeing the sold out crowd flashed a wide grin limned with mischief. Snapshots of vintage porn theaters, nightfall in L.A., and other surrealist images filled the space behind the band like the opening of a David Lynch film.
Wasting no time the band broke into “Last Night in Town,” off of their latest release “Dynamite Steps.” Whenever you’re here, your alive. The devil says you can do what you like—Dulli crooned sotto voce with a grin ear to ear. The man was on fire.
The band followed with “Blackbird and The Fox,” which, on the album, is a searing duet with Ani Difranco. Played live, very little was lost sans Difranco—Mark Rosser sounded like a poet with his guitar and drummer Greg Wieczorek made his kit ring like a summer thunderstorm. Bassist Scott Ford stood in the background holding his bass like a lone assassin.
Dulli pulled out “I’m Ready” and “40 Dollars,” from the 2006 release “Powder Burns.” By the third song I knew there was magic was happening—a quick scan around the room and it was clear I was not alone, there were 800 other people singing along with thick grins.
The one thing that was missing was Dulli’s banter. Only a couple times did he stop and talk to the crowd—one of which was to accept flowers from a fan to which he said, “You sure know how to make a man feel like Neil Diamond.”
The 21-song set was a masterful orchestration of sound. Every song in the list had a purpose—there were no empty slots and no fumbles, everything was in its right place. I never thought I’d hear Bonnie Brae and Annie Mae in the same show—Dulli regaled us, but he also showed us what lies behind the darkness.
The band played a murderous version of “Love,” that would bleed the most romantic of hearts. During “Too Tough To Die” Dulli stepped away from the mic, hushed the crowd, and started singing Tom Petty’s “Breakdown.”
The crowd sang along, It’s all right if you love me, It’s all right if you don’t. I’m not afraid of you running away. Honey, I’ve got the feeling you won’t. If I didn’t know Petty I would have sworn Dulli penned those words.
The encore was a three-song steamroller. When a picture of Jerry Lee Lewis and his 13-year-old wife Myra Gale Brown flashed on screen I could hear “The Killer” in my head before the band started playing.
For the last song Dulli played the first few cords of “Esta Noche” and announced, “This is the motherfucking finish line.”