The Afghan Whigs at the Ogden Theatre, 10/30/12 (photos and review)By Amy McGrath | October 31st, 2012 | 1 Comment »
I’m not sure of the source of Greg Dulli’s pain, but as sadistic as this may sound, I’m glad for whatever it is, because Dulli’s pain is very beautiful. Dulli and the reunited Afghan Whigs put on a hell of a show at the Ogden Theatre on Tuesday night.
It’s not particularly daring for any rock critic to suggest that the Afghan Whigs’ 1993 release “Gentlemen” is a nearly perfect piece of ’90s alternative rock. Wrought with Dulli’s swagger and agony, and knit together by a driving, excellent band, the album remains fresh and relevant nearly 20 years later. The Afghan Whigs played a generous helping of material from that album, including the mournful, affecting “When We Two Parted” and the slithery “Debonair.”
Unlike the Whigs’ last Denver performance in 1999, all outward signs on Tuesday pointed to a cleaned-up, sober and svelte Dulli. But when, in the evening’s crescendo, the haunting “Fountain and Fairfax,“ the singer howled “Let me drink! Let me tie off! I’m really slobbering now,” it was the real, raw deal. Dulli, in his late 40s, cuts a rock ‘n’ roll Johnny Cash figure: a wizened, powerful but still bad man.
The majority of Tuesday’s show was dark, both visually and musically, but there were moments when the Whigs playfully shined. Several mash-ups kept the set surprising, including dropping in spirited bars of “Best of My Love,” “Purple Rain,” “Who Do You Love?” and the swelling encore of the Beatles’ “She Loves You.”
The end of the show was a special treat for longtime Denver music fans as Dulli told the audience about the special connection between the Afghan Whigs and Denver’s own grunge legends the Fluid. According to Dulli, it was the Fluid that passed on the Whigs’ demos to Sub Pop records, leading to the band being signed. “If anybody ever asked me what rock and roll was,” he explained, “I’d play them the Fluid and that would say it all.” The band then launched into the gorgeous, sweeping “Faded” in honor of late Fluid guitarist Rick Kulwicki, providing a cathartic resolution to a powerful evening of music.
Amy McGrath is a Denver-based writer and regular contributor to Reverb.