The Twilight Singers

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author TL date 27/03/11 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

It's a Sunday evening in Copenhagen, around 7:40 pm. My prettier half and I are at Lille Vega. The twilight is yielding to darkness, the temperature is dropping and various long haired types are passing us by, on their way to see Children Of Bodom, who are playing around the corner in Vega's larger concert room. I'm guessing maybe someone has thought so however, because when we enter the foyer, it turns out that there's been a glitch in communication between the bookers and the venue, so I actually have to yield some hard earned cash to gain entrance. Tough break for a freelance writer, but in the end, I suppose is worth it, because the show we're seeing tonight isn't all that similar to the ones usually cover. For starters there's no support band, but that's not so weird as is the fact that for once, yours truly does not feel like the oldest person in attendance. In fact, at ages nineteen and twenty-five, I'd wager that our pair is included in the youngest dozen, out of the crowd that is slowly but steadily growing to fill up the room. I guess it's not so strange, because even though we aren't exactly seeing The Rolling Stones, the star of tonight's show, Greg Dulli of The Twilight Singers, has been penning chapters for alternative rock's history, ever since the 1986 formation of his first band The Afghan Whigs. Keeping that in mind then, I guess it's also no surprise that there's no fuss about the time making it some thirty minutes past the planned show start, before the lights dim and Dulli and his crew take the stage:

The Twilight Singers

Now if it wasn't apparent already, that this experience was meant to be a significantly more mature experience than are most of those we review, then it became so, when Dulli led his crew on to the smoke-covered stage, covered from head to toe in Johnny Cash-black, guitar included. No mosh-pits erupted, no one shouted or screamed, and noone jumped feverishly up and down - save for one drunken looney, whom Dulli soon addressed in a classy manner, friendly - yet distanced, implying the boundaries that would ensure that his enjoyment would not come at the expense of that of either the band or the rest of the audience. The audience simply applauded politely and enthusiastically, as if they were all in the same boat as me, knowing well Dulli's legend, but being shamefully unfamiliar with the depth of his catalogue. To begin with, I admit to fearing that the cautious response would dampen the spirits of the band, but being every bit the experienced performers one could expect, The Twilight Singers only seemed to find the excitement among themselves, which they couldn't squeeze out of the wide-eyed audience.

If that doesn't read like a party to our regular readers, I guess I understand that, but while some measure the quality of concerts by the amount of fans and musicians jumping about, or the extremeness of other ways in which people may rock out, this show is predominantly about something else. As is clear as crystal standing there and experiencing it, this is a show that is about making sound - joyous and glorious sound, streaming in uninterupted tides from musicians that have evidently been around the block more times than most. Having only heard the band's latest album prior to the show, I can say with certainty, that while unfamiliarity might limit my greeting most songs with loud cheers or eager singing along, it does little to limit my appreciation for the supremely tight performance, and the elegantly composed songs, which all seem to increasingly engage the listener more and more with each progressing part.

For most of the show, the sheer musical experience is mesmerizing without fault, yet on more than a handful of occasions, for instance during "Gunshots", "On The Corner", "Dead To Rights" and "Esta Noche", the songs reach climaxes of utterly sublime noise, and what starts out seeming a bit like just another day at the office for the band, gradually changes character into something slightly more animated. Guitarist Dave Rosser seems to enjoy every opportunity to squeeze wailing solos out of his instrument, sweating noticeably from the effort, and keyboardist/violinist Rick Nelson also looks like he welcomes each chance to get up from behind the former instrument and rock out using the latter. Behind the drum kit, Greg Wieczorek is also playing with enthusiasm, and in fact the only person who seems a bit chill, is bassist Scott Ford, who seems content hanging back and keeping rhythm with a sly smile on his face.

As the show progresses with songs relatively evenly distributed across the band's catalogue, and with Dulli changing back and forth between guitar and keyboard, the gradual loosening of the atmosphere also affects the crowd members, many of whom get increasingly generous with their applauses and yells of favour. Dulli appears to be enjoying himself as much as anyone, encouraging the crowd to step closer, and eventually opting to sing/shout "Too Tough To Die" away from the microphone, not seeming to give a damn about the crowd not knowing enough words to back him up. He even has the presence of mind to notice a woman shielding her ears, gifting her with a set of ear-plugs between songs, at first apologizing for his band playing loud, and then proceeding to ask to have his vocals turned up, now that the ear-plugs should take care of the problem.

As the show ends, after fifteen songs of regular set and a three song encore, it is not with Dulli jumping off the drum kit, or with people screaming, yelling or clapping for an eternity. Symptomatic for the night, Dulli simply introduces his band members and himself, thanks the crowd warmly for coming, and then that is it. Another sobering quality of the evening, which might make the experience read weaker, to those that think a show is a visual spectacle as much as a sonic one. Seeing bands regularly though, who to some extent compensate for their shortcomings as musicians, via acrobatics or attitude or charm, I can't but say what a delicate pleasure it was to see a show in which the opposite was true. And indeed, the music was more than enough to entertain, as the show seemed without the all too familiar lulls, during which you catch yourself checking the time, and at the end of the night, that's what I take away from this show: That a newcomer like me, all ADD and hard to impress, knowing only a handful of the songs played, still stood mostly entranced while utterly losing track of time.


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