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Live Show Review: Afghan Whigs at Brooklyn Steel, September 19, 2017

The Afghan Whigs

September 21, 2017 | by Jocelyn Hoppa

There's probably no musician on Earth I enjoy writing about more than Greg Dulli. Through all the ups and downs and twisted, dark alleyways of his extensive output, you're never not on a ride with this guy.

In my recent review of The Afghan Whigs latest album In Spades, the strength of Dulli's voice was called into question. After seeing him perform this past Saturday at Brooklyn Steel, I have to take that back. He sounded really fucking good — in fact, this show was the best I've ever seen him play.

One thing that's important to note about the return of The Afghan Whigs is that, while it likely took them a minute to settle back in, it seems they've hit their stride again and the live show results are truly a thing to behold. Not only was the energy in the room incredible (a knowing sort of camaraderie/revelry found only amongst the damaged), but the show was heavy on the latest album tracks, and it did not matter, because In Spades is a very good Whigs album. Try that with your other favorite bands from 1990 and see if it works ... probably not. (Okay, Mudhoney and Mark Lanegan still pull it off in 2017.)

Point is: No one is carting Dulli out onto the stage like some '90s relic.

Of course, it's always welcomed to hear "Debonair" or "Fountain and Fairfax" — some classic Whigs blasting through those big speakers is the best. But "Arabian Heights," "Toy Automatic," and "Light as a Feather" off their latest was, really, just as satisfying.

The last time I saw the Whigs was in Philly, they were on tour supporting their first real release Do to the Beast as a decidedly not-reunion-band but a real-making-new-music-band. I can't say that was a great show, in fact, didn't. The lights were entirely too much and Dulli seemed to get lost behind a lot of stage antics. On Saturday in Brooklyn, however, we got everything that Philly show wanted to be (or, more accurately, what I wanted it to be).

The band was tightened up and some of the stage theatrics and chaos was toned down — not to the point of boring, but more in just letting the pure power of their musicianship speak for itself. And it did. All of my own questions were answered, whether about Dulli's capability to absolutely shred his vocals this far into an almost-30-year career, or that shooting all that heavy lyrical shit through the Whigs prism of rock and soul still sounds so vital.

I'm at the point of gushing now, so I'll just leave it at this: They're touring through October. Go see them.

"Arabian Heights"

Full set list:

  1. Arabian Heights

  2. Matamoros

  3. Debonair

  4. Crazy

  5. Light as a Feather

  6. Oriole

  7. Toy Automatic

  8. Can Rova / Last Goodbye (Jeff Buckley cover)

  9. Fountain and Fairfax

  10. Algiers

  11. Neglekted

  12. Going to Town (slight return)

  13. Demon in Profile

  14. It Kills

  15. John the Baptist

  16. Somethin' Hot

  17. Into the Floor

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