Concert Review: Afghan Whigs at Beachland Ballroom

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When the Afghan Whigs, the Cincinnati alternative rock band that has recently reunited, played Lollapalooza over the summer, the setting didn’t do anything to enhance the band’s music. Dark and edgy (and devoid of any significant hooks), this is the kind of stuff best suited to dimly lit (preferably smoky) clubs. The Beachland Ballroom provided a much more appropriate venue for the band, which brought its own LED lights and even puffed some smoke onto the stage at the start of last night’s 90-minute concert in front of a capacity crowd.

At the show’s start, singer Greg Dulli sang a few lines of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love,” before launching into the opening number, “Fountain and Fairfax.” And from that point forward, it was on. With a full crew of roadies and sound guys in tow, the band turned the club’s sound system up as far as it could possibly go but always kept Dulli’s soulful vocals up front and center. He sounded particularly sharp on “Uptown Again,” as his voice soared alongside a violin that was brought out for the tune. A few songs into the set, he took a breather to ask “How’s it going?” and then later related a story about how the band was billed as the “African Pigs” on one of its first visits to town. Then, he introduced the band’s signature track “Gentlemen,” adding “we may or may not have played this song that night.”
Appearing to be in a particularly good mood, Dulli shouted, “Tomorrow’s Monday; hold onto the weekend as long as you can!” near the show’s conclusion, which found the band jamming hard on “Debonair” and “Faded.” The Whigs returned for an encore that included a terrific rendition of “The Vampire Lanois,” which Dulli then accentuated with a few riffs from the Beatles’ “She Loves You.”

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