Let Me Entertain You: The Twilight Singers @ Trocadero 5.10.11

When you’re a purveyor of beautiful gloom like Greg Dulli is, the stage beckons with an irresistible proposition:  not only will people flock to see you, but you’ll be able to tool around with your own songs, simultaneously baffling and beguiling all who listen. When performing with The Twilight Singers, Dulli’s tricks mostly come in the forms of unexpected and often unrecognizable cover versions. At this show, Dulli worked verses from other songs into his own in addition to doing a handful of full-length covers. Even with Dulli’s own material, The Twilight Singers gave a captivating show, favoring grit over showmanship. Dulli and his band did not come to get hands waving in the air. If anything, they came to put us all in our collective place.

Opening the show were former indie darlings Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s. Appearing in Philadelphia for the first time since leader Richard Edwards completely rebuild his band, Margot’s performance got a lukewarm reaction. Songs from last year’s Buzzard blended together in a flurry of too many electric guitars, and the lone songs from Not Animal (“A Children’s Crusade On Acid”) and The Dust Of Retreat (“Skeleton Key”) brought out the most enthusiastic reactions from the crowd. Edwards and the new group came across as uncomfortable, bothered and detached from the audience which, at that point, was largely comprised of dedicated fans. He might now be catching on to his creative missteps, but it may be too late for Edwards.

As Margot’s fans exited, the Troc was refilled with the Twilight Singers’ audience. Draped in near darkness for most of their performance, Dulli and his band played through selections from each of their albums. The set’s most heavily represented albums were 2003’s breakthrough Blackberry Belle and the recently-released Dynamite Steps. Each song, ballads included, was delivered with Dulli’s trademark intensity, though between song chatter and smiles betrayed his true gentlemanly nature. Verses from “Dream On” and interpretations of Marvin Gaye and Kanye West punctuated the career-spanning set. The main set ended with two of Dynamite Steps’ strongest songs, “Never Seen No Devil” and “On The Corner.” Dulli, who celebrated his birthday the day after this show, has an uncommonly strong connection to his fans. It’s as if he knows the kind of reverence they have for him but still commits himself to earning their respect night after night. With a regimen like that, Dulli has a, um, dark future ahead of him.

Click the picture at the top of this post to see more pictures of The Twilight Singers in concert!!

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~ by E. on May 18, 2011.

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