GREG DULLI leads the Afghan Whigs at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: ORIT PNINI)
With Bruce Springsteen no closer to performing in Israel, the rock star charisma of Greg Dulli and the E-Street power of the Afghan Whigs pick up the slack very well, thank you.
The venerable 1990s muscular rockers may travel down a funkier, more ominous road than Springsteen, but the reconstituted band’s stop-on-a-dime precision and versatility, combined with Dulli’s white soul strutting showmanship wowed the capacity crowd Tuesday night at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv. The first of two shows (the second took place Wednesday) marking the end of a 10-month tour was highlighted by good spirits from both band and crowd and a generous 90-minute overview of the Whig’s deep catalogue that meshes classic riff rock, grungy soul and sing-along anthems.
Powered by a three-guitar attack and abetted by multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson who swiftly flew from viola to violin to keyboards, the band seemed to be clicking on all cylinders. And the sometimes standoffish Dulli, still matinee-idol handsome despite putting on a few pounds, enjoyed himself as much as anyone on the stage or in the crowd.
He’s been to Israel numerous times, both with the Whigs in 2012 and in various side project configurations like The Twilight Singers. And that familiarity and comfort shone through the performance. “I can’t think of anyplace as beautiful as Tel Aviv to end our tour,” Dulli told the audience late into the show.
Working in elements of The Beatles’ “Getting Better” and Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street” into the performance provided a salient link between the Whigs music and some of its main inspirations. By the end of the night, anyone witnessing the show would agree that the Afghan Whigs’ place in rock history is firmly secured.