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Afghan Whigs' rock, soul hit Terminal 5
The Afghan Whigs reunion tour just keeps getting deeper.
For the band's third Manhattan visit in the past five months, after 13 years apart, Greg Dulli – along with original Whigs bassist John Curley and guitarist Rick McCollum – showed how the reunion continues to evolve, with the band's performance getting both rougher and more soulful.
After all, those are the two poles that the Cincinnati alt-rock pioneers' career have bounced between for 25 years now and it continued in their 100-minute set at Terminal 5 Friday night. (The band plays Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight.)
Guitarists McCollum and Dave Rosser rocked extra hard on the raucous “Turn on the Water” only to give way to the extraordinary beauty of a lush, extended “When We Two Parted.” The Whigs played the grunge-era staple “Kiss the Floor” for the first time on tour, giving it an even harder edge than it had in the '90s, but then added a layer of dreaminess to the lovely “Crazy.”
They certainly lean toward soul these days, as the recent covers of Queenie Lyons' “See and Don't See” and Frank Ocean's “LoveCrimes” showed. Once again, Dulli tacked on a bit of Ocean's new single “Thinkin' 'Bout You” to close out the song in a gorgeous, yet sly falsetto. However, the Whigs' history is steeped in in-your-face rock, like their hard-hitting old anthem “Retarded.”
Their rock-soul combination, especially embodied in Dulli's unique ability to howl one minute and then croon the next, is what has always set the Afghan Whigs apart from their contemporaries. And though the band remains undecided about whether they will continue together past the current tour, their particular set of skills would certainly be in demand in today's music world where mashing up styles has new value – especially since their mix is real. Anyone who saw the stunning medley of “Faded” and “Purple Rain” can testify to that.
SETLIST: Debonair / I'm Her Slave / Uptown Again / What Jail Is Like / Turn on the Water / When We Two Parted / Gentlemen / Kiss the Floor / Crazy / My Enemy / Somethin' Hot / See and Don't See / LoveCrimes > Thinkin' 'Bout You / Going to Town / Who Do You Love > Fountain and Fairfax / Faded > Purple Rain // ENCORE: Retarded / 66 > Little Red Corvette / Miles Iz Ded