LIve: Afghan Whigs @ Koko.

After a recording break of some 16 years, the Ohioan men of Afghan Whigs returned with their 7th studio album Do to the Beast in 2014, quickly followed by the 21st anniversary remastered reissue of their major-label debut, Gentlemen.

Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

Being one of few non-Pacific North-western acts signed to Seattle-based indie label Sub Pop in the late 1980’s, Afghan Whigs became synonymous with Grunge after touring with pioneers Mudhoney but they always brought a unique blend of influences to their sound with their frontman often sporting a crisp suit on stage to counter the plaid shirt and jeans look of that counter culture movement.

Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

Following North American and European tours in 2014, with a stop at Camden’s Electric Ballroom venue in London, the Greg Dulli-lead 7-piece rock outfit returned to Camden, this time to Koko, on the third date of their 2015 European tour. Opening with Do the Beast tracks Parked Outside and Maramoros, the former introduced with a Middle Eastern-influenced violin part as the rest of the band took the stage. the 49-year-old interacted little with the audience but had them riled all the same.

Rick McCollum of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

Rick McCollum of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

Following new single The Lottery, Dulli took a break from straining his vocal chords by transitioning into the soulful disquiet of Black Love track Crime Scene Part One before launching into Congregation single Turn On The Water.

Catching his breath, Dulli finally addressed the audience by requesting they switch off the flash on their cameras: “Take all the pictures you want, just don’t use a flash. That f***ing blinds me!”. “Hey dude with the green light” he accused, while staring at a member of the audience, “cease”.

Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

After tearing through the title track of their hit 1993 album Gentleman, Dulli took a seat behind a keyboard as he eased through a cover of Jeff Buckley song Morning Theft.

Before the band brought the tempo back up with 1965 fan favourite John the Baptist, Dulli warned the crowd “Remember to dance and not mosh”. Picking out a particularly enthusiastic audience member, he pointed and stated “you’re not going to get any p***y dancing that way”.

Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

The main set was closed with Do to the Beast track Lost In The Wood after which the band left the stage only for Dulli’s voice to boom over the PA. “Please show your enthusiasm for the band” he bellowed. “Encouraging them to come out and perform more numbers for you”. “Koko thanks you for your patronage” he teased as he appeared in the balcony while the rest of the band took to the stage.

The encore was opened up with a cover of The Police hit Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic as Dulli made his way from one balcony box to the next, making his way to the stage before finally stepping out into the crowd and finishing the song mingling with his enamoured audience.

Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs (Kalpesh Patel)

Then it was back to business with a cover of Twilight Singers’ Teenage Wristband before finishing with Black Love track Faded (which uses the  piano intro from Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street)

Afghan Whigs may have been a little start-stop as a band since 2001 but there was nothing interrupting their energetic live show tonight as they proved they are still just as relevant today as they were in 1989.

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Photography & Review by Kalpesh Patel. Afghan Whigs at Koko, London, 4th February 2015

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