On a cold, rainy night, a cold, dark band came on stage. OK, so it wasn’t that cold, and it was barely drizzling, but the ambiance of the night seemed just right for the Gutter Twins (nee Greg Dulli, the Afghan Whigs, and Mark Lanegan, the Screaming Trees). I got to the Avalon (after spending $25 to park… that’s not a typo) about 9:20 or so, just in time to hear a number of really good songs from Great Northern. They worked hard and the crowd seemed to be getting into it. My anticipation grew as the roadies were tearing down the Great Northern gear and setting up the Gutter Twins set. After a long, drawn out process, the full band finally appeared.
They started off heavy singing “The Stations.” I, as well as others in my section, seemed to be really into it. They continued with “All God’s Children” and “All Misery/Flowers.” One of the few songs that were song that were not on the album was “Live With Me,” which appeared on the Twilight Singers Stitch in Time EP. They also played a breathtaking version of the “St. James Infirmary” blues made famous by many including jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong and more recently, Isobel Campbell. The slow, brooding nature of the Gutter Twins’ vision fit that song really well.
Highlights of the night, for me, included “Seven Stories Underground” and “Bete Noire.” Dulli seemed to be frustrated with the audience when he asked for participation and got a very timid response from the hipster LA scene, at one point asking, “You guys still out there?” I was sitting almost directly in front of Jeff Klein playing keyboards. What a joy to watch. Some songs playing keys, some guitar, some playing his recorded loops from the laptop, all while smoking a cigarette. He really is an underrated and under appreciated musical talent. After Dulli introduced the band, Lanegan uttered the only non-singing words he uttered all night – “This is Greg Dulli.”
Dulli closed the set with an amazing version of “Front Street” that blew me away. The band went offstage, to what seemed to me, great applause. The band went backstage. The applause lasted a few minutes, it seemed, and all of a sudden, the lights came on and the roadies started dismantling. I did not want to believe it, but then the curtain came down. There would be no encore tonight. There is a difference between going to a Mark Lanegan concert and a Greg Dulli concert. Dulli wanted the crowd to clap, and move and show emotions, and the crowd reacted like they were at a Lanegan concert, quietly listening to incredible songs. Still, even with no encore, it was a great show, packed out at the legendary Palace Theatre, now the Avalon venue.