Image for The Gutter Twins @ York Theatre, Sydney (23/07/2009)

The Gutter Twins @ YorkTheatre, Sydney (23/07/2009)


So much of rock music is about collaboration – individual’s talents finding the perfect collaborators to elevate and inspire their own work into something great. Even certified geniuses like Morrisey and Marr have not quite reached the same peaks without their creative partners. Consider it a blessing then, that Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan crossed paths, for their dark alchemy makes them seem nothing less than musical soulmates. As The Gutter Twins they have produced career-best in the twilight of already distinguished careers.

The setting was the intimate surrounds of York Theatre, more usually a venue for staged drama than that of the musical variety. With the twins (and Twilight Singers guitarist Dave Rosser ) draped in black and performing in acoustic mode, the sense of occasion was heightened and the audience hushed and respectful. It was spectacular from the start, with God’s Children setting an ominous mood early, conjuring up all sorts of darkness to complement its impressionist, barely-there lyrics: “Whispers…captured lies”.

Never known as a particularly jovial frontman during his time with the Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, Greg Dulli was nonetheless in relaxed form tonight, breaking his near-silence to banter with an audience member at one point and leading the crowd in handclaps during a powerful cover of Jose Gonzelez’ Down The Line. The cover proved a perfect choice for the pair, who pick up on the tune’s foreboding, its underlying sense of unease and violence and run with it.

Mark Lanegan, meanwhile, is nothing less than a force of nature. His voice seems not just weathered or aged, but absolutely timeless, so deep and dark it seems to have risen out of some primordial sludge. Few voices in rock are so richly evocative and to hear him sing Creeping Coastlines of Light, a lovely torch song from his solo record, was to know greatness.

It takes artists with real gravitas to take on material like The Stations, with its visions of the rapture and overwhelming emotional heaviness. But there’s something about Dulli and Lanegan’s combination that makes their explorations of sin and redemption positively inviting, even addictive.

With only the sublime Saturnalia record to their name, and some of its best moments ( Idle Hands, All Misery/Flowers ) apparently unable to be replicated in acoustic form, the twins range widely through covers and their back catalogue. Dulli’s raw take on the Afghan Whigs’ classic Summer’s Kiss is absolutely heart-stopping, while maybe the most magical moment of all comes in during the sublime harmonies on Everly Brother’s perfectly melancholy All I Have To Do Is Dream. If you weren’t there, you really missed out. If you were, you’re probably still in a reverie.

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doubtfulsounds said on the 29th Jul, 2009

Such a good show, I kept thinking that Dulli was better than Lanegan and vice versa but then one would outdo the other, it just kept getting better.


MorningAfterboy said on the 29th Jul, 2009

They were really something at Splendour.


spesh said on the 30th Jul, 2009

I agree MAB to have someone captivate me enough to stand still for 45 mins at Splendour has to an amazing act.


billo said on the 30th Jul, 2009

sounds great wonder if they played the same songs as melbs? anyone got setlists.


Spavo said on the 1st Aug, 2009

I was at both shows, and the setlists were more or less identical (Melbourne did miss out on one Gutter Twins song, 'We Have Met Before' from Adorata. I was kinda disappointed there weren't more Twins songs, though hearing Mark's solo stuff more than made up for it!


billo said on the 3rd Aug, 2009

the first 4 or 5 songs sent me into a trance. afetr that i was as good as gone


matted said on the 3rd Aug, 2009

maybe i'm on my own here but the show just didn't live up to my expectations. i walked away feeling kinda disappointed. i'm not sure why coz they did play well but i felt the acoustic setting to be a bit boring and they only played 45 mins before leaving stage - given they did come back for 3 encores but still only a 1 hour set and how much were tix? 70-80 bucks? i expected more. a 1 hour set is what i would expect from a festival set or a dillinger escape plan gig but it's not like they were physically exerting themselves - they were all sitting on stools... i saw twilight singers play the prince in st kilda a few years back and that was 10 times better. the one highlight for me was the cover of the twilight singers song can't remember the name of the song but it fully blew me away. was almost worth the ticket price just to hear lanegan on stage for an hour anyways... end of rant.