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The Afghan Whigs and frontman Greg Dulli never deliver a slack live show, and last night at the 9:30 Club was no exception. “It’s hotter than a motherfucker up here,” Dulli said at one point. Supporting Do to the Beast, their first release in 16 years, the Whigs have only bettered the best parts of their live shows. Guys still want to be Dulli, and people who like fucking guys still want to fuck him.
When Dulli stopped “It Kills,” a quiet piano-based track, to chastise two guys talking in the front row, folks cheered. When he hit the line “You can fuck my body baby,” from “Neglekted,” folks cheered. And how he loves to invoke the latter: “I saw 2 Live Crew at the old 9:30 Club. ‘Me So Horny’ changed my life in so many ways. It will be in my book,” he said, to which a band member quipped, “Is that the title?”
But something I’ve always loved about the Afghan Whigs live is the visibility of their current influences. Dulli is a master of riffing on lines from other songs. Last night, he worked in a little Paul Westerberg (“Unsatisfied”), the Beatles (“Getting Better”), and Bobby Womack (“Across 110th Street”)—-while singing his own songs, it’s a wonderful jolt when you realize the shift. The Afghan Whigs are a great template for how a band can grow older and remain just as viable and fresh as when they first arrived.
This was one of the darkest shows I’ve ever photographed. You can see photos from the show in the gallery.