Roxy - July 10, 2008
Live Review and Photographs by Alexis Roberts
The whole idea of The Gutter Twins is enough to make music nerds weep tears of joy. Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan are royalty in the eyes of many.But before getting into how great they were, let’s discuss the openers, shall we? A seemingly innocent show turned into a full-blown shitstorm of earaches because of a poor opener, followed by the ear-cleansing melodies of Mr. Ed Harcourt who balanced out the first half of the night for me.
Surprise guest Nick Oliveri (ex-Queens of the Stone Age) opened the night with an obnoxious solo set. Ever since his “departure” from QOTSA he claims his fame by playing “Gonna Leave You” from the ever-popular Songs for the Deaf album. This song, by the way, is one of the less memorable QOTSA songs but you would know it if you heard it- hence why he plays it; nobody would know or care who he was otherwise. Seldom is it impressive when a person tries desperately to relive their glory days. His set was so sub-par that it’s a really good thing he went on when there were only like 15 people there. I wouldn’t wish that torture upon anyone... OKAY, maybe a few people. Aren’t you supposed to stop playing QOTSA songs when you get kicked out of the band? I always thought that was kind of how it worked when you left a band. You shouldn’t kiss you exes and you shouldn’t play your old band's songs.
Next came Ed Harcourt, the charming man in the red shoes and polka-dot shirt. Harcourt changed the atmosphere of the evening entirely when he began playing and thank God for that. His poppy, piano-driven music has that certain undeniable English sensibility that’s so hard to not like. Harcourt’s set was so fluid and fun. He has quite a few albums under his belt, but somehow he’s still yet to get the recognition he deserves. Clearcut highlights from his set were his songs from The Beautiful Lie, such as "You Only Call Me When You’re Drunk" and "Shadowboxing." Harcourt, whom also doubles as a pianist for The Gutter Twins, spent the first few songs of his set glued to his keys. He then moved to center stage to play the guitar, and ended his set with his Sinatra-esque ballad, "Until Tomorrow Then". Harcourt’s dreamy voice echoed through the room leaving all hearts aflutter at the end of that song (if there’s one song to listen to by him, please do yourself a favor and make it that one). He knows how to work a crowd and leave them wanting more and he was actually quite funny on stage, mumbling about his out of tune guitar but not really making any effort to fix it.
When Harcourt finished, a flock of aging women with bad tattoos pushed themselves up to the front of the stage to prepare to worship at the altar of Lanegan/Dulli. After a long wait, the band took the stage, in button down shirts and dress shoes, thusly letting us know… it’s business time. They opened with their single, "Idle Hands". Starting their extra long set after 11pm only added to the climactic nature of it all. Many of the people that attend these shows, I think, attend in hopes of hearing an Afghan Whigs or Screaming Trees song slipped in, so they can run home and gush about it to their friends for years to come. This was my second experience with the Gutter Twins and thus far, I am yet to have any such luck. As nice a thought as it may be, we should probably let these ideas leave our heads and appreciate how good these two are now. Their music is dark, bluesy and seductive. Their performance is equally all of those things as well. They requested no front lights on the stage, so as a result they were dimly lit in reds and blues through out the entirety of the set.
Lanegan is perhaps the most sullen front man in existence. He is stone fucking cold on stage. He stands still, grips his mic stand with his tattooed hands and he scowls. If I met Mark Lanegan in a dark alley I’d be terrified, if Mark Lanegan was ever mad at me I’d probably run for the hills because he could kill a man with that scowl alone. The only time he spoke the entire set was after the mandatory band introductions conducted by Greg Dulli… Lanegan said in a very deadpan way “Greg Dulli” and gestured toward him.
Dulli, on the other hand, is energetic, boisterous and embodies the typical aspects one would expect of a lead singer. He moves around, he sings with a visible and palpable passion and he interacts with the crowd… as we saw during Front Street, while he flirted with his army of disciples and made one of them cry. Yes, tears were shed; by one gal in particular… she stood at the front of the stage, sweaty and with tears rolling down her face for the latter half of their set.
As you would expect we got an encore, what you didn’t expect was for it to span about 5 songs long, which made their set last well into the night. They ended a little bit after 1am and the entire room was still packed, wide-eyed and attentive. It was one of those shows that leaves you feeling no void, as no songs were left unplayed (including the new one "Spanish Doors" which is incredibly eerie). Like a fine wine, these two men have aged well musically.
The Gutter Twins / Great Northern - Live - April 2, 2008
The Gutter Twins - Live - February 10, 2009
More by this writer:
The Helio Sequence - Live - June 16, 2008
The Album Leaf - Into the Blue Again
Hot Snakes - Thunder Down Under
Fujiya & Miyagi - Live - Oct. 13, 2007