The Afghan Whigs, OMG, never thought BM would see them again after an epic and hysterical night at King Tut’s around 2000AD, last part of the ‘1965’ tour, Greg Dulli a rock god, the cover of ‘Hey Ya’ by Outcast ringing in the night air on the way back down St Vincent St, mixed in with the hot and steamy oppressiveness of the ‘1965’ numbers, dripping in suggestive atmosphere, and that was only BM’s perfume…anyway (ahem).
So it is with heavy anticipation that BM attends this gig, having had to pass at last minute on the Oran Mor (switched to ABC1) event last summer due to holiday commitments (Stroke City, aka Derry/Londonderry was calling and something had to give, gutted at the time).
Never been to Liquid Rooms in current incarnation although was getting flashbacks of 80s incarnation, was it previously Preservation Hall? (80s survivors are free to disagree on this, if they can remember anything at all)
SO – without further ado, the current version of Afghan Whigs have two original members and are furiously touring on the back of a pretty good album (‘Do To The Beast’) released mid-2014, first in well over ten years. The set is focused mainly on the new material but with such a stomach-churning back-catalogue to pluck from, there are some oldie-action moments as well.
Greg Dulli is in very good form tonight, intent on his purpose, to get the audience going and to demonstrate that he has lost none of his charisma, drive, soulfullness and gravitas in the intervening period since the Whigs last graced these stages. BM has seen Dulli incarnations The Gutter Twins and The Twilight Singers in these years, very good they were too, but the Whigs have the durability and the history, so this is essential.
Tonight, 21 tracks of absolute majesty, talent of biblical proportions, and all in fucking Edinburgh on a Tuesday, truly Greg you do spoil us.
After blasting through a couple of ‘Beast’ tracks, they take ‘Fountain and Fairfax’ in a majestic stroll, Dulli relishing the reaction (the normally sedate, or sedated Reekie audience are pretty stoked tonight, for an icy Tuesday). And the current set-up is pretty amazing, Dulli and original bass player augmented by two guitarists, a keyboard/strings player and yet another drummer, always the shuggly peg in any Whigs line-up.
After a Sylvan Esso cover (BM is sure it is on one of their records but cannae recall which one), they take ‘Debonair’ as a blinder, the classic blueprint of squalling guitars, high-soul vocals of self-abuse and flagellation. This is not some (BM takes a pot-shot at current pop-culture) stupid p$$n-lite cash-in, this is the real deal, the searching of the soul, the bodily pleasures, the human existence, and anyone looking for fifty shades of paint can fuck right off – happy?
The middle section of this gig is a lesson on how to play an audience (a familiar one, of old friends, really), like an old lover, to get them up, down, and blow their minds, completely. After massively good walk-throughs of ‘Beast’ songs “Algiers” and ‘I Am Fire’, which transmogrifies itself into the back of ‘Tusk’ (by The Mac, ask your granny) we are up for more gems, Dulli in the middle of the audience at times, or sitting on the stage…
BM just lost it completely during during ‘Gentleman’, a song which emerged from the grunge morass (90s survivors, talking to you) intact and perfectly formed, a psychodrama and a self-fulfilling prophecy of doomed love, although some of us, including Greg, have survived to tell the story, (you were very good, Greg).
And still this set goes on – good lord, GD takes to the piano for a couple of numbers – ‘It Kills’ and ‘Can Rova’, very affecting , before ‘John The Bapist’ cranks it up again (‘1965’ is one of BM’s fave albums ever, like EVA!!!) – holy crumbs, after all this, even more, the Fleetwood Mac influence now very apparent!
More older material now comes along, the outrageously OTT delivery of ‘My Enemy’ from ‘Black Love’, oh lordy, what a history, aural orgasm might have just happened here, have to check, sorry readers.
The main set ends with ‘Lost In The Woods’, in some ways quite a downbeat selection, but there is a plenty more gas in the tank – a four song encore, good grief, readers.
They start with a Led Zep/Gutter Twins cover ‘In the Light/God’s Children’, ‘Lover Mine’, v old song BM thinks, then ‘Somethin’ Hot’ (from ‘1965’) – ending with the glorious ‘Faded’ from ‘Black Love’ – before going off as complete heroes after a marathon 90+ minute set.
This may have been the gig of the year, Edinburgh certainly does not deserve this, at least not on a regular basis.
We are not worthy.