Greg Dulli - solo performance L.A.'s Gold Diggers - photo by Dave Robbins
When the pandemic locked everything down Greg Dulli was dealt a double blow. The tour for his new album, “Random Desires,” was cancelled and his second revenue stream operating two classic watering holes in New Orleans and three bars in L.A. was also shut down. A one-two punch that wouldn’t sound out of place in one of Dulli’s hard-luck story-songs where streetwise woe seeks out soulful poems.
Playing well over half the new album, Greg fleshed out the eighteen-song set with an array of gems from his time with the Afghan Wig and Twilight Singers. Occasionally assisted by Dr Stephen Patt on pedal steel, bass and electric guitar, Dulli’s solo performance at l.A.’s boutique hotel, venue and recording studio Gold Diggers was intimate, almost voyeuristic. The spacious venue was filled with unplayed musical instruments, scattered studio equipment and a few vacant-eyed mannequins for an effectively solemn space to absorb the music and focus one’s attention on Dulli’s literate visions and matter-of-fact abstractions.
A livestream of a neatly spliced video, Greg moved between piano and acoustic guitar with a simple camera pan. Distilled to the song’s essence, the performance was hypnotic. Besides Dr. Patt’s atmospheric backing for a handful of tunes, Greg pulled out a harmonica to substitute for a horn section on, “Lockless,” and an electric guitar to give further muscle to, “Too Tough To Die;” which ended with Greg exclaiming, “Hot Damn,” in one of the rare times he spoke between songs.
The hour-long set ended with a cover of Prince’s, “I Would Die 4 U,” another songwriter whose writing revels in both personal myths and restless questions. Lovely indeed to have witnessed this stripped-down set blending decades of work in a seamless narrative. Ending his recent, “It Falls Apart, quoting Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon, “dreams unwind, love’s a state of mind,” one cannot help but feel Dulli has survived by rolling with the punches and picking up insights he somehow turns into incredible music.