October 19, 2010
That Was The Show That Was: Greg Dulli with Craig Wedren | Brattle Theater
In the alternate universe that holds underground rock 'n' roll music in its loving embrace, there is the equivalent of a Great American Songbook. And in that songbook there are many, many tracks written by Greg Dulli. The former Afghan Whigs fronter, now helming Twilight Singers but performing largely acoustic last night with two sidemen, enthralled the fortunate packed into a sold-out, 235-capacity movie theater, sharing a career-spanning set that was only upstaged by the man's rapier wit. Dulli recounted having seen the film "Kiss Of The Spiderwoman" at the same theater on a date many years prior; offered comical excuses as to why he could not perform his nearly peerless song "The Killer;" called out an audience member for checking his email during a song; and was just generally hysterical throughout. The quote of the night, offered prior to a spirited rendition of the classic Twilight Singers jam "Forty Dollars," had to be this: "There are certain songs you can write any old time. Then there are certain songs you can only write when you’re really high on cocaine."
But the songs, oh the songs. Dulli offered timeless cuts including "Teenage Wristband" and "Follow You Down" from 2003's Twilight Singers set Blackberry Belle; "Summer's Kiss" from Afghan Whigs' 1996 epic Black Love; and at least one tune from a forthcoming Twilight Singers set expected to street in early 2011. Despite performing on acoustic guitars, with certain accompaniment from cello and violin provided by a cohort from New Orleans, the set's energy was high. Dulli performed for about 90 minutes and offered a final encore from behind an electric piano. We had never seen Dulli perform live before, and while we were disappointed to not experience "The Killer," the show was still a treat from start to finish. Check out the full set list right here, as snagged by the inimitable Bradley's Almanac.
Opening the evening was former (although he argued still current) Shudder To Think fronter Craig Wedren. Mr. Wedren makes his living now primarily (if not entirely) by writing songs for television and film. That's a far, far cry from the days when Shudder To Think was releasing music on the top-notch D.C. label Dischord Records. The only other time we'd seen Wedren perform was when his old band opened for Fugazi at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ in the summer of 1993; at the time Shudder To Think was out promoting its wonderful Get Your Goat record [buy it, it's awesome]. We lost touch with Shudder To Think once the act signed to a major label (there was a time when we were young and stupid and signing to a major was an unforgivable crime against the underground), so we were not familiar with the majority of the material Wedren performed with acoustic and electric guitar (looping and harmonizing against his own vocals, which was really terrific to watch) last night. But what we found particularly remarkable was that it seems Wedren has been able to preserve in his contemporary, "commercial" work a certain amount of the angularity and dissonance that made early Shudder To Think such a joy to hear.
Dulli's tour continues through late November and complete dates are listed here at the Summer's Kiss fan site. Wedren's stint on the road with Dulli ends Saturday, according to these dates posted at Wedren's web dojo.
Greg Dulli: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr
Craig Wedren: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flicker