THE AFGHAN WHIGS @ OGDEN THEATRE |10/30/12
Probably the biggest surprise of the Afghan Whigs show last night at the Ogden came right before the end of the set when Greg Dulli revealed that his band had a Colorado connection. He told us how more than two decades ago, the Fluid heard a Whigs demo tape and sent it to Sub Pop, resulting in the Whigs being signed to the then fledgling label. When the two bands later played a show in Seattle together (the Afghan Whigs first), the Fluid left quite an impression: "If anyone asked me what rock and roll is," he said, "I would play the Fluid for them. One of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time."
Whenever the Afghan Whigs would come to town, Dulli said he'd stay with the late Ricky Kulwicki. After noting that Matt Bischoff and James Clower of the Fluid were in the audience, and that the Whigs would see Garrett Shavlik in Seattle and John Robinson in L.A., Dulli dedicated a searing, soulful version of "Faded" to Kulwicki, which fittingly faded into the back end of "Purple Rain." At the very end, Dulli introduced the band, including "yours truly" -- rhyming with his own name of course -- as if Dulli needed any introduction. And then he said, "Take me away!" just like Prince and left the stage.
The show started off with a disco ball glittering motes of light against the walls in a whirling motion, as the Afghan Whigs took the stage to enthusiastic cheers. Without much in the way of preamble, the band went directly into "Crime Scene Part One." You kind of wanted to compare it to other stuff as a frame of reference, but this is one of those bands that really is in a category of its own other than "rock." But there was nothing generic about this music or the performance. When Greg Dulli belted out the anguished passages, you really felt that pain and also the catharsis. It was like he was reliving those moments on stage.
Musically, Rick McCollum and Dave Rosser, alongside Dulli, made great use of three guitars. This was most dramatically and impressively displayed during "Crazy" and even Dulli remarked, "This is why we have three guitars." Rosser did some beautiful slides in the middle, while McCollum and Dulli played completely different aspects of the melody. It wasn't just volume or thickness to the music; it added real depth, and seeing a band make real use of three guitars is too rare.