The Afghan Whigs arrived in New York City this weekend for two shows ostensibly as part of their Do To The Beast tour, but also in actual effect to celebrate the continued existence of the Greg Dulli Rhythm and Blues Revue as a living, breathing, thriving concern in the year 2014. Both nights were musical and emotional powerhouses, exceptionally performed and executed, with special moments and surprises. That is saying a lot for a band that always came to take prisoners and never phoned it in.
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I moved to Israel in the summer of 1988. The specific reasons why are complicated and irrelevant now, mostly; I was young and wanted an adventure. I thought it would all work out okay, and it did. Miraculously, despite only knowing how to say “orange juice” in Hebrew, I got a job within two weeks after arriving. The ad in the Jerusalem Post said “Wanted: Young person with good English and interest in popular music.” The job was Label Manager of Warner/Elektra/Atlantic (which included Geffen & MCA at the time), and since I had been stumbling around the music business before I moved to the Middle East, and had good English, I got the job.
Band reunions are tricky, complicated, emotional things. In these days of holograms and reunion tours that go on for 5 years, the concept of accepting that this entity to which you had such an emotional connection, or never got to experience, will never be available to you (either again or for the first time) is unpopular. I never saw the Who with Keith Moon, never got to see Sterling Morrison play guitar on the same stage as Lou Reed, John Cale and Maureen Tucker, never saw the New York Dolls with Johnny Thunders and Arthur Kane. When I was younger these things made me rue my very existence, now that I was older I kick myself but still accept that bands are this amorphous thing and sometimes the universe does not align to put you where you need to be to experience something you want.
[/caption] In one of those moments of my life in which I know I am blessed, I was extended the opportunity to see the 2012 Afghan Whigs during dress rehearsal for their Late Night With Jimmy Fallon appearance tonight. It goes without saying, but I will say it in case you are new around these parts: the Whigs are a Top 10 artist for me. I got to work Gentlemen when it came out. I have a long, long history with them (which I will save for another time).
So being able to step through doors and into a studio and see the recombined Afghan Whigs standing there was like walking through the doors of the Emerald City. Everyone looks good; everyone looks well. You would recognize them if you saw them walking down the street, even if the heads are now salt-and-pepper; they would just look like you and your friends. The energy was clear and palpable; these are people who are connected to each other. This isn’t a big payday (although I’m sure it’s not small, and they’re more than entitled to it), so I wasn’t worried that they’d get together if they didn’t genuinely want to be there, but the tangible proof was heartwarming to see.