St Luke’s really is a great venue, and perfectly suited to a gig such as this.
First up was Englishman Ed Harcourt, who has been in and around the music scene for a good while now but has never quite had the breakthrough that some of his music suggests he deserves. He had been playing other dates with the Whigs and was glowing in his praise for them, but first of all he gave us a brace of solo tracks on electric guitar and also piano. Impassioned, with distinctive vocals and sweeping notes, BM is not sure which of his (quite a few) releases they drew from but it was an impressive performance and whetted the appetite for what was to come.
Since their reformation after a lengthy hiatus (and various Dulli solo projects) a few years ago The Afghan Whigs V2.0 have made three excellent albums. The band currently consists of reformed wildman and singer/guitarist Greg Dulli, other original member John Curley on bass, Rick Nelson on keyboards, Patrick Keeler on drums and Chris Thorn on guitar. Live they are a formidable unit and tonight they were on top form, tearing through a pretty lengthy selection tilted towards the most recent album ‘How Do You Burn’ but also taking in tracks from the other two V2.0 albums and a fair sprinkling of the V1 material, some of which now dates back to around 30 years ago.
This was the last date of a pretty extended live jaunt around Europe and the US but if they were exhausted they certainly didn’t show it. The 21 tracks played included a furious take on ‘What Jail is Like’, a knife-sharp version of the more recent ‘Algiers’ and a “there’s life in the old dog yet” version of ‘Somethin’ Hot’. Despite his reformed reputation Mr Dulli, although greyer and a bit broader, still looked every inch the upstart who want to fight and fuck his way through a city, leaving a trail of destruction. At times he glared at the audience, leering and snarling during ‘Debonair’ and clearly relishing every moment. The crowd, which pretty much filled the place, was pretty much hanging on his every word, at times roaring the choruses back at him.
The set ended with a soulful (and audience accompanied) take on The Smiths’ ‘There is a Light’, something which seems to have closed most live Whigs sets recently. No encore but if anything this band had exhausted their audience with a showcase in attitude, class and style. A corker of a gig.