The Gutter Twins make it to Paradise

A review of The Gutter Twins at The Paradise Rock Club on March 18, 2008

, Staff Writer

Greg Dulli of The Gutter Twins greeted Tuesday night’s expectant crowd with the words, “Good evening Paradise.” Over the next two hours Dulli, fellow twin Mark Lanegan, and the rest of the band played songs from their debut Saturnalia about the long road from the fall to redemption, a fitting narrative for Boston during Holy Week.

The band opened with “The Stations”, with Lanegan and his deep baritone taking the lead. The song set the mood for the night, as five voices meshed and broke apart over a seething, mid-tempo rocker. The bottom-heavy mix coupled with Lanegan’s heavy-burdened voice lent a physical gravity to the already deep lyrics of the song.

Dulli was up next as the front man, and although he performed capably on “God’s Children”, his generic voice was no match for the allure of Lanegan’s dark, haunted, delivery. The band kept plowing allowing in their aggressive mid-tempo pocket, sounding a lot like Metallica post-haircuts.

“All Misery/Flowers” allowed the twins to show how they can play together, with a dual vocal melody reminiscent of TV on the Radio. As the band rhythms and vocal rhythms moved along in a tangled dance, the lead guitar player delivered a strong wailing guitar solo.

The band continued on a strong trajectory, moving capably through subdued builds, fractured rhythms, and murky harmonies before arriving at “Circle the Fringes”, a heavy jam with Dulli’s best vocal effort and a spooky, spoken bridge by Lanegan. The epic rock sense was building until Dulli derailed it with a “motherfuckin you know” that was too Jack Black to be taken seriously.

As the show continued solidly, but with few true peaks, the crowd began to grow weary of the foreboding guitar intro, slow build, crescendo formula. Dulli noticed this, and threatened half-jokingly to take the band to Providence the next time around, saying “I can see myself in The Living Room.” The energy was picked up during a cover of the Jose Gonzalez song “Down the Line”, which led directly into the Blood Sugar Sex Magic groove of “I Was In Love With You”.

The main set ended with “Front Street”, which served as a microcosm of the whole show. The song (foreboding intro, slow build, rock climax), Lanegan (motionless), and Dulli (singing, prowling, inciting, storytelling) were all so focused and so earnest that the song worked.

After a longish encore break (cigarettes) the band returned for an extended second set which departed from the pattern of the first. It was also not as engaging, as the Twins tried some directions that didn’t quite suit them, from full-speed ahead rockers to shimmery ballads. “Papillon”, from Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, was about as close to joyous as the band got all evening.

The night slowly came full circle, as Dulli sang a perfectly fitting verse of “Amazing Grace” before singing The Twilight Singers’ “King Only”, which featured a nod to Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”.& The barnstormer “Number Nine” was the last tune of the night and as Lanegan immediately left the stage Dulli announced that “that’s the concert Boston. See you in Providence this summer!”

After Tuesday night I don’t want The Gutter Twins to go to Providence next time. I want them to come back to Boston and try again. Because with a few less songs, a few more high points, and a little more crowd enthusiasm, they could put on one hell of a show at The Paradise.

Openers Great Northern played for a fairly packed house, indicating the buzz that preceded them. Touring in support of the amazingly titled Sleepy Eepee, which is the precursor to their already released debut Trading Twilight for Daylight, the band fit on the lighter side of the bill.

Closing song “Into the Sun” was very reminiscent of TV on the Radio, and for more reasons than the lyrics. Lead singer Rachel Stolte, armed with a tambourine, and guitarist Solon Bixler showed great vocal chemistry, and the driving song was a nice complement to the band’s otherwise dreamy rock. It would be great to see this band on their own the next time around.

Leave a Reply