Greg Dulli & The Twilight Singers – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Tuesday July 11
Dressed in regulation black but radiating a surprising bonhomie, former Afghan Whigs front man Greg Dulli has the look of someone who has conquered his demons and come back smiling.
(Well, perhaps not all of his demons: with his microphone stand niftily customised to hold an ashtray, Dulli’s constant chain smoking puts even champion chuffer Ryan Adams in the shade.)
Although his songs mostly deal with the dark, dysfunctional side of human relationships, you sense that Dulli has, at last, found some measure of peace in life. Despite this useful new distance from his subject matter, his performance remains as riveting and galvanising as ever – and yet the assertively rasping vocal delivery (“I’m too tough to die!”) of this bulky, imposing man is balanced with an incongruous femininity that can sometimes border on camp.
The band’s classic rock stylings are emphasised by quotes from artists as diverse as The Beatles and Prince, Steve Miller and Outkast. An extraordinary encore starts by paying tribute to the late Syd Barrett, with a timely cover of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, before drifting into an equally spell-binding cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. Perhaps Dulli’s personal triumph has been to step back from the craziness which both songs describe.