The Afghan Whigs – Concorde 2 – 17th August 2017

What’s that saying about old dogs and new tricks? Because it certainly won’t be found here. After releasing one of the most colossal albums of this year with In Spades, The Afghan Whigs return to Brighton in a tightly packed Concorde 2 bringing one hell of a noise with them.

A stunning opening comes from Ed Harcourt whoes warm, crackling voice is simply electrifying, Ed has a brilliant use of sampling to his songs, making him an unstoppable force of ever growing sound. He is not afraid to vary his set with a series of slower piano-led numbers which create a far more emotional connection whilst simultaneously creating songs which simply blow the roof off the place, a lovely start to the evening!

Underneath a choir of angelic voices and ambient sound, The Afghan Whigs enter the stage and immediately burst into a wave of intense sound with ‘Birdland’ and ‘Arabian Heights’. From the first note, the sheer power of vocalist Greg Dulli’s voice dominates the room. Greg holds not only some incredibly big notes, but can instantly shift into a far more husked, mysterious pattern, making every track of this evening a brilliant spectacle to witness. Equally, the opening level of rock’n’roll sound from the remainder of the band is overwhelming! The piercing guitar rips through the room whilst some incredible drum patterns make the floor shake, the tracks are met with a deafening roar of cheers from the crowd and the set is well underway.

Audience eagerness to chant alongside the band only continues to grow and it can be seen that there is a huge level of sentiment behind these songs, as crowd members find themselves chanting at the top of their lungs to the newly released ‘You Want Love’ in perfect unison. The Afghan Whigs’ sound is certainly one which paints a prominent image, close your eyes and it feels as though you’re in the midst of an American road trip, cruising across vast deserts and feeling like a complete badass, what more could a true rock’n’roll fan ask for?!

Another aspect of the evening which must be noted is the band’s exquisite usage of varied instrumentation, the crossing of strings with an accompaniment of electronic synth and guitar in ‘Toy Automatic’ is simply musical brilliance and produces a truly unique sound that I haven't seen executed this well in a long while. The evening soon takes an unexpected emotional turn as the band lead into ‘Can Rova’, a track dedicated to their guitarist Dave Rosser who passed away earlier this year following his battle with cancer. The song is performed with even more passion from all of the band and the genuine emotion can be heard in Greg’s vocal tremors, more than a few wet eyes can be seen and the track certainly served as a wonderful celebration of Dave’s life.

The heavy rock’n’roll antics only continue to grow higher and higher towards the end of the set as the band lead into the gigantic ‘Algiers’, ‘Demon In Profile’ and ‘John The Baptist’ which receives easily the largest response of the night! The piercing guitars return and once again provide such an electrical buzz through the room that the crowd find themselves throwing all limbs in the air and chanting again once more. A deafening demand for an encore fills the room and the band finish their set with a climactic aura of sound and passion in ‘Faded’, which sees all talents being demonstrated whether it be the piano-ed introduction or the prolonged guitar solos which even the likes of Hendrix would be in awe of. A fantastic end to a fantastic evening.

Despite being formed way back in 1986 and undergoing a long break, The Afghan Whigs have truly shown that they stand the test of time, their music still means such an immense amount to so many and their level of passion and eagerness to perform shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. If you ever get the chance, get down to one of the band’s shows to see what real rock’n’roll is all about. You won’t regret it.

Ben Walker

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