This Show Is Tonight: The Church and The Afghan Whigs seek religion in Boston

Photo Credit: MNRK Music Group

Rarely does a show come to town when all the artists on the bill are somehow intertwined, which is the case with The Church, The Afghan Whigs, and Ed Harcourt, who all play Royale in the Theatre District tonight (June 21). It’s even more impressive considering they hail from three separate continents. Then again, the common denominator is Greg Dulli, the Whigs frontman who always seems to have his fingers in an armful of musical pies.

Dulli and his purveyors of Cincinnati soul rock co-headline with The Church, seeing the Australian psych-pop outfit on their third stop in North America supporting last year’s better-each-listen LP The Hypnogogue. Steve Kilbey, the mastermind behind the group, is a bit of a prolific sort, cranking out some 25 albums since 1981. He’s got a lot on his mind apparently, and while it all needs to come out, don’t worry, nobody is neglecting “Under the Milky Way” here. Along the way, don’t be surprised to hear some astounding material from present day.

The Whigs last put out something new in 2022’s How Do You Burn?, so this could be considered a trek for fun. Dulli has been keen on pulling out tracks from not just the name on the marquee, but his 2020 Random Desire solo album and Twilight Singers collective. Though he and bassist John Curley are the sole survivors of the band’s alt-rock heyday, no less fire or cohesion is coming from the stage. If the first notes off anything from 1993’s Gentlemen or 1996’s Black Love ring out, it’s pure combustion thanks to the assists from Raconteurs drummer Patrick Keeler, Blind Melon guitarist Christopher Thorn, and sonic Swiss Army knife Rick G. Nelson on keys, etc.

Opening duties fall on the shoulders of Ed Harcourt, the English singer/songwriter who just released his fantastic El Magnifico album in March. 


So how does this tie together? It goes back to Dulli, who in recent years has collaborated with both Kilbey and Harcourt on separate occasions. The latter he shares a duet with on “Broken Keys,” a standout track on El Magnifico. And over a decade ago, Kilbey and Dulli were making a lot of noise about a collaboration they’d begun, but nothing ever came of it other than a one-off show in L.A. Then a week ago, it was revealed the pair had pressed up a thousand vinyl copies of two tracks they’d completed and would be selling at shows titled Songs from an Alien Musical.

“In February of 2013 I visited Steve Kilbey in Sydney,” Dulli posted on the Whigs socials a week ago. “We began working on some songs and while I was there I got the call from Usher to play SXSW and that in turn revived the idea of continuing on with The Afghan Whigs. Both of these events come full circle as we begin our North American tour with The Church… To celebrate Steve and I pressed 1000 singles of the two songs we wrote, recorded, and mixed together 11 years ago. They’ll be on sale at the merch booth until they’re gone.”

Logic would dictate that one of those Dulli dabblings will rear its head tonight at Royale. As for which, well we can’t give it all away. It is worth noting, however, that the Whigs are coming on directly after Harcourt, their sets bleeding together with no breakdown and setup in between.

THE CHURCH + THE AFGHAN WHIGS + ED HARCOURT :: Friday, June 21 at Royale, 279 Tremont St. in Boston, MA :: 7 p.m., 18-plus, $45 :: Advance tickets