review by Spike
photos by Hilary Harris
Greg Dulli has dubbed his musical partnership with Mark Lanegan “the Satanic Everly Brothers,” and c’mon… who’s going to argue with Greg Dulli? The stars aligned for the Gutter Twins‘ Showbox appearance last week, as it was the very day their Saturnalia CD hit the streets via Sub Pop — giving the band the opportunity announce “it’s good to be home again” from the stage, and dubbing the night their record release show.
As is his custom, Dulli prowled the stage with a feral intensity, working the microphone with the same howl’n’purr combo that earned Afghan Whigs such a following at their peak. Bantering with the audience and strutting in full-on badass motormouth mode, he split time between keyboards and guitar and generally ran the show. The seven piece band was filled with seasoned pros, the secret weapon being guitarist/producer Dave Rosser, who kept to the back of the stage but contributed a haunting slide guitar that gave many of the backing tracks much of their atmosphere.
I say “backing tracks” for one reason only — when Mark Lanegan is at the microphone, all other elements recede. If there’s a more magnetic voice in Rockdom, I’d sure like to hear who you’re vote goes to. In contrast to Dulli, Lanegan stood stock still onstage, hands on his mic stand, rarely giving the crowd even a glance. Although he’s been showing up more and more on record lately (check out his stunning vocal turns on the recent Soulsavers release, to name just one) he remains well out of the spotlight. Interviews are rare; stage patter is almost nonexistent. At the Showbox, it was a total of three words — “Mister Greg Dulli” — his contribution to the band intros after Dulli had covered everyone else. Lanegan’s impossibly deep, tactile voice adds even more gravitas to anything it wraps itself around, and it’s not as if the Gutter Twins are writing party anthems to start with (Dulli’s “Front Street” is gut wrenching, and Saturnalia as a whole is a dark and often draining listen.) Such is the mystique of Mark Lanegan at this point that the one time he broke into a shy smile during the show — when Dulli attempted to get him to do an Eddie Vedder impression to follow Dulli’s own version of Chris Cornell — the crowd broke into possibly the loudest applause of the night. Adrenalin ran especially high for “Idle Hands” (the album’s single, and the one Gutter Twins song the audience was familiar with beforehand) and the handful of Twilight Singers/Lanegan solo material the band mixed in.
The band stopped by KEXP earlier in the day to perform live on air, and you can catch that performance in our streaming archive. While you’re listening, enjoy Hilary Harris’ photos from the big show.