The Twilight Singers live are a different animal altogether. Former Afghan Whigs leader Greg Dulli takes the band’s alt rock and pushes it to heavenly heights. On October 25th, 2006 at Hollywood’s House of Blues the band began strong with rocking older tune “Teenage Wristband,” before heading into the driving “I’m Ready” and the throaty quiet/loud of “Bonnie Brae” from the group’s last full-length album Powder Burns. Dulli alternated throughout the show between guitar and organ throughout the show, while keeping a cigarette lit at a conveniently located mic stand ashtray.At least initially, a large part of the draw was Mark Lanegan’s participation in this tour. A short way into the set, and without introduction, Lanegan’s tall form emerged from backstage. Without hesitation the band began the opening guitar melody to their cover of Massive Attack’s “Live With Me.” The song congealed in a delivery of massive proportions. By the chorus, when Dulli accompanies Lanegan, it seemed to fill the room, the raspy snarl perfectly complementing the baritone rumble. When the song completed, the crowd roared in cheers. Dulli, taking the cue shouted, “Mark Lanegan, everyone!” Lanegan stood expressionless, while the waves of praise showered over him, just like the best of the early 90s grunge heroes. The ensemble then followed suit with Lanegan’s own “Sideways in Reverse” and “I’ll Take Care of You.” Then, as quickly as he entered, Lanegan ran offstage.
The show pressed on. Dulli struck the keys signaling “There’s Been An Accident.” Expanding the ruminative intro, he loudly proclaimed, “The ceremony is about to begin!” The song built energy steadily into Dulli’s ferocious refrain of “’till you’re crawling under.” The Twilight Singers also jammed out with bluesy patience the start of “Candy Cane Crawl.” Dulli led the crowd in clapping along before singing the ballad-esque vocals. This time, the song rang through it’s completion with an abundance of soul as Dulli sang “who love the blue sky” repeatedly. It was a performance that seemed to borrow successfully from the uplifting spirit of gospel. It was a ceremony indeed.
The group continued, playing a rendition of Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” as well as their own “Papillon” and “Martin Eden” from Blackberry Belle. Following a call for encore, The Twilight Singers blasted through an outstanding rendition of TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me.” Lanegan returned for another of his older tunes (the simple yet effective “Boogie Boogie”) and another from the A Stitch in Time EP (the spy-groove “Flashback”). Then Dulli brought it all home with a middle ground number, “Underneath the Waves,” a satisfying conclusion that neither overstated the performance nor undercut it. Dulli and his band have built a unique strain of alternative rock: one that doesn’t beg for attention through gimmickry or fail to be courageous. It’s seasoned rock that draws from years of experience and hard work. It’s enough to wonder why they aren’t insanely popular.