Gutter Twins
"November 5, 2008"

Gutter Twins - November 5, 2008

Gutter Twins with Afterhours
Fillmore at the TLA, Philadelphia, PA
November 5, 2008

Maybe it was the rainy but relatively warm weather or that it was a Wednesday night. Or maybe Philadelphia's still hung over from trying to flip a news van following the World Series win last week. Regardless of the reason, the Fillmore at the TLA was predictably empty when the opening act, Italian export Afterhours, took the stage but, surprisingly, only about half full when The Gutter Twins went on.

If the low turnout disappointed Afterhours, they didn't show it. The sextet was full of energy and enthusiasm as they opened with "White Widow." "You might be confused," singer and guitarist Manuel Agnelli explained, unapologetically, before the band launched into a new song. He was right. As they sandwiched new tracks in Italian between cuts from "Ballads for Little Hyenas," their love of crescendos, punctuated by sharp outbursts of cacophony was an abrupt change from their otherwise lush melodies. But the confusion also acted as intrigue, making you wonder what the recorded versions of these songs sounded like. When the band stayed on a safer path, they sounded better, clearer, but they surely won over the audience as they marched through the audience, with tambourines and clarinet with their take on "18th century heavy metal."

The thing about The Gutter Twins is you're getting way more band for your buck. Greg Dulli's got The Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers material to draw from while Mark Lanegan's got his own solo music and The Screaming Trees. Not to mention the unlikely covers that Dulli has seemingly turned into an art form, remolding tracks you might already have stuck in your head or others that you might have missed. Add to that the fact that the line-up for this leg of the band's tour was the same as The Twilight Singers, save the swap of drummer Bobby McIntyre for Cully Symington.

The band blazed through countless songs from that collected library while bringing the house down with their notable covers of Massive Attack's "Live With Me" and José González's "Down The Line" were clear audience favorites of the evening. Songs off of "Saturnalia" weren't the obvious focus. "Idle Hands" boomed, "God's Children" swirled, "The Stations" was solid and "Front Street" saw Dulli working the stage, microphone in hand, like a naughty preacher before the converted but the new tracks were generally segmented to early in the setlist. "Bonnie Brae," "Number 9," "Methamphetamine Blues," and "Hit The City" all made appearances as did a brief segue way into "Shadow Of The Season" which saw a somewhat looser but always in the shadows Lanegan belting out the song in his solemn tenor. The Gutter Twins sounded strong and energetic despite some off-and-on sound problems, which plagued Afterhours as well, and some occasionally off vocal harmonies.

Before the show I laid two predictions on my fiancé: both the Philadelphia Phillies and Barack Obama would get mentions during the evening. Sure enough, only a couple of songs into the Gutter Twins' set, and in response to an earlier shout of "How about those Phillies?," Dulli casually announced, "I won $500 on the Phillies, motherfucker." And, like clockwork, towards the end of the evening, the less chatty Dulli of recent years congratulated us on Obama's victory, assuring the audience that "he's a good man." But he's not the only one.