It was more than a decade before, just about 12 years to be exact, that I had seen them perform at Bogart's in Cincinnati. It was one of the most memorable concerts I've ever attended, not just for the band and the location and the timing, but for the happenstance that came with it. More than 600 miles from home, I ran into Joe (at the time my ex, later to be my husband) standing in line outside the venue. We had each made the trip separately, each with a friend, each without the other knowing and there we were once again brought together by the band that worked like glue on our relationship.
|Bogart's in Cincinnati - we saw The Afghan Whigs here on 9/25/99
Here's a glimpse into my Twitter feed from the day of the announcement, including the tweet about what I understood to be Joe's first request when he hit the "flip side"...
This past Wednesday, I was finally able to witness this much-anticipated reunion at a kick-ass, fan fantasy, better-than-ever Afghan Whigs show at The Bowery Ballroom. It was our favorite band at our favorite venue and I couldn't be more thankful that my new friend Elissa had a whole pack of tissues for those "moments" when music and life became so completely intertwined that it was impossible to separate the joy from the sadness, the ecstasy from the pain, or the present from the past. I've written in other posts about the role The Afghan Whigs (and later The Twilight Singers and the Gutter Twins and everything Greg Dulli) played in my relationship with Joe. This moment, this concert, was the culmination of our unique love story.
It was the story of a quiet, shy, guitar-playing Afghan Whigs fan who loved music that didn't seem to fit his personality and an outgoing, yet naive college freshman who had never heard anything like "that music" before. The music connected us and always seemed to be the way we could "read" each other over the years. The first time Joe and I spoke after I had gone through a painful separation from my first husband, our immediate re-connection was over the music of Greg Dulli. I knew that ours was that once-in-a-lifetime kind of relationship when, after we hung up from that first conversation, he called me right back because he had forgotten to tell me the most important thing that had happened for him in the time while we weren't speaking. He had met Greg Dulli. Greg fu#@ing Dulli. He sounded like a kid in a candy store as he told me every last detail. I was so excited for him...and sad that I had missed such a big moment with him.
In a wonderfully delicious twist to our story, I had my own chance to meet Greg on Wednesday night (along with John & Rick to boot). I guess it's only fitting that I had my "Greg" experience without Joe there since life had dictated he went solo on that one too. I just wish I had a chance to share every detail with him the way he did with me. It's just not the same putting a lonely post about the show on his old Facebook page. I guess this was just one of those many "firsts" that are difficult when you've lost someone and it's what we should expect when we live deeply enough to have our hearts broken. I'm thankful for a deep life with Joe that was rooted in deep music and glad that I have a photo to remember my encounter with a rock god (seriously, people, that is NOT an exaggeration).
|Greg was very cool about posing for a photo and I was thrilled.
So on Wednesday night, as Crime Scene Part One came over me I knew that he was there in spirit and I knew that he could probably not contain his excitement over this perfect choice for an opening song any more than I could. And when the songs from 1965 started to come up in the set, I felt him with increasing intensity. These were ones we heard in person on the tour in 1999. And many times after on our own CD players and iPhones and USB drives. These were the songs that Joe used to first introduce me to The Afghan Whigs. Uptown Again. 66. Crazy. By the time it got to Crazy, I was really feeling emotional. "Crazy about ya, crazy without ya, Crazy, Over you" - um, yeah. I don't fully understand it, but as I looked at Greg and John and Rick and listened to that amazing angsty song and then looked up to the mirror ball and the vivid lighting that was overtaking the place, I felt Joe. He was there with me and the realization made the tears flow. It was cathartic and I am thankful for that moment. By the time the last song from 1965 rolled around (it was Somethin' Hot, part of the first encore set), I was just happy to be present in the music that defined so much of my early adulthood and in the intense love of my guitar-playing Afghan Whigs fan who came with it.
|Setlist from the show (someone else's souvenir)
I'll end with my "report" to Joe on the night, the post I put on his Facebook page at 2:09am, just before I made my way back home:
"They opened with Crime Scene Part One. I felt you overpowering me during Crazy. They did Gentleman. An amazing show at our favorite venue. Oh, and I met John, Rick, and Greg. I'm as close to being in the beyond with you as I can get while still breathing."