For simplicity's sake, there are two types of musicians. There are the musicians who wearily, and with varying levels of joy, perform live shows and merely churn through the dates their manager has scheduled for them. Then there are the musicians who are energetic, optimistic and seem, simply put, genuinely glad to be on a stage performing their music for a receptive audience. Greg Dulli is in that latter category.
Having just finished up the new Twilight Singers record in August, Dulli has been playing solo acoustic shows and his stop in Philadelphia on October 20th at Johnny Brenda's was as enjoyable for the music as it was for the entertaining banter.
Along with his constant musical companion, guitarist Dave Rosser, Dulli's backing band was rounded out with strings player Rick Nelson and percussionist Greg Wieczorec. But don't let the "acoustic" name of the show fool you. The quartet offered songs from Dulli's well stocked catalogue of material, drawing from the Afghan Whigs, The Twilight Singers, The Gutter Twins and his solo material -- plus you can always count on a few other "inspirations" to find their way in somehow. The band performed full, lively renditions that made you forget the guitars on stage weren't electric.
Ever the musical eagle, Dulli turned "Teenage Wristband" into "Pinball Wizard" before circling back while, similarly, "66" became "Little Red Corvette." Other songs in the setlist included "Summer's Kiss," "A Love Supreme," "Please Stay (Once You Go Away)," "Let Me Lie To You," "Forty Dollars," "All God's Children," as well as three new Twilight Singer tracks.
"You know I'm not Justin Bieber, right?" Dulli asked after a woman's continual bloodcurdling, Beatlemania-like screams. The screams did serve for some quick wit ("After the show can I record you for my car alarm?;" Dulli: "What do you sound like when you fuck?" Rosser: "No one has lived to tell.") as did the Phillies game which was running simultaneously to the show (Dulli announced the Phillies' loss during the encore after a fan hassled him, a known Reds fan).
Is Greg Dulli maturing? He has been for years and we just haven't noticed or fully appreciated. Take the change in tone from his years with the Whigs to his newer music. Live it's easier to see that he's as sharp with his music as he is with his tongue. Once known for rebel rousing and slipping off key vocally, Dulli was focused, smart and on point. While Johnny Brenda's was a tight squeeze on the sold out crowd, to say the show was intimate is an understatement.