Sunday, October 26, 2014

Now You Know

It's crazy to think it was almost a month ago, but I've just been so busy that it's only now I'm posting about going to the Afghan Whigs' return swing through Boston on September 30. The first time through was in May at the Paradise and that was a sold-out ass-kicker of a night. This time around, the band played the Royale, a larger venue, on a Tuesday night; unfortunately, the cavernous room  was not filled to capacity.

But those who were there witnessed an amazing show, led off by the always interesting Joseph Arthur, who played solo with a guitar and a paint brush. The latter was used to create a painting on an easel on stage while he was singing a song (which he later offered for sale at his merch table). Arthur's a talented performer who has toured with the Whigs and the Twilight Singers in the past.

The Whigs are known for their rabid fan base, especially the group called The Congregation (who I recently joined), whose members are known to follow the band on tour. This particular show had plenty of "Congos" in attendance, including folks who had flown in from various locales, and it didn't disappoint. Unlike the band's last appearance in Boston, frontman Greg Dulli was in good spirits; at that gig, he chastised certain members of the audience for taking flash photos throughout the show and one tall doof in front of me who was filming much of the show. This time, he basically said we could take whatever photos we wanted.

The Whigs were aided by Steve Myers, who provided soulful backing vocals and smooth dance moves on several songs (as he did on the 1998 tour for the band's album 1965) and Arthur. In addition, the band's super-enthusiastic and youthful monitor tech, Ryan, was brought out from behind the board to join the band on guitar on a few songs. Even though he was likely a zygote when Gentlemen was made, the kid knew every word and was clearly having the time of his life. The band, which has been touring for most of the year, was totally locked in and bringing its A game, whether playing hard rock, slow jams or funk.

The band's 70-minute set was filled with songs from 2014's Do To the Beast, but classic Whigs tunes were sprinkled throughout: "Fountain and Fairfax," "Debonair," "Gentlemen" and "Now You Know" (which Dulli said the band hadn't played in 20 years) from the Gentlemen album (about to be reissued in a nice set with lots of extras), and "Step Into the Light," "John the Baptist" and "Neglekted." There were the requisite snippets of covers, including Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk," the Beatles' "Getting Better" and Bobby Womack's "Across 100th Street," which led into the night's epic closer, "Faded" from 1996's underrated Black Love. Although I would've loved for the band to play another 20 minutes or so, it was a terrific night from a terrific act. There are some rumblings the Whigs may swing through one more time on this tour, and hell, I'd go. There aren't many sure things in this world, but a Greg Dulli-led band is always sure to be great.

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