Gig Review by Toni Woodward with Photography by Zoe Shannon

Mark Lanegan

The support act for tonight’s performance is the duo Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss who provide a lively interpretation of folk and blues that entrances the audience. Schloss’ CV is a varied amalgamation of music and film including his time with Circle Jerks and Joe Strummer. The punk influence runs through this duo’s work and the energy that flows from the stage is contagious, with Wheeler’s unorthodox movements adding to the vibe. Their performance contains humour including a dedication of the last track to Harvey Kietel and sees Wheeler engage the audience in singing the chorus whilst adding Lee Scratch Perry inspired sounds. Unfortunately, only caught the last couple of tracks but they were the most entertaining and intriguing support acts I have seen in a long time and certainly well-suited for this particular tour.

Sean Wheeler & Zander Schloss

Sean Wheeler & Zander Schloss

Lanegan’s set starts in an understated yet powerful fashion, as he takes to the stage with his guitarist, Jeff Fielder and begins with When Your Number Isn’t Up resulting in hushed tones throughout the rammed venue. Mark Lanegan has one of the most distinctive vocal styles on the live music circuit, he has the gruffness of Tom Waits, the depth of Leonard Cohen and a raucous aspect that is reminiscent of Kurt Cobain which all combine to produce something so evocative and powerful yet with a delicacy.

Mark Lanegan

As a solitary figure bathed in red light, Mark grasps his microphone stand and makes minimal movement except to lean back on occasion whilst holding everyone’s undivided attention. Fielder’s guitar playing enhances the songs with his sensitive and subtle development of the solos which are mixed perfectly with the vocal level. This first section of the set includes a range of songs from Lanegan’s back catalogue and most recent album Phantom Radio including Dead On You and Judgement Time. As Low draws to a close, other members of the band take to the stage for No Bells On Sunday. The weight of live drums elevates the track from its recorded status, and with the talented Aldo Struyf on keyboards and samples, the song sits easily amongst Lanegan’s previous work. This is followed by the hauntingly beautiful Resurrection Song, which illustrates what amazing music can be constructed with a simple and repetitive guitar part.

Mark Lanegan

The most popular songs with the audience are those from the album Blues Funeral including the opening track The Gravedigger’s Song with its pounding drum pattern and distorted guitar. The set then proceeds with Harvest Home, which thankfully loses its electronic emphasis as the live drums and guitar reduce the prominence of the keyboard and make the song far more palatable. This leads into the Dandy Warholesque, Quiver Syndrome with its conspicuous vocal woohoos. The pace slows down with the phenomenal One Way Street, Mark Lanegan has the ability to deliver lyrics with such honesty and sentiment that one cannot fail to be moved. After a cover of The Twilight Singer’s song Deepest Shade, to which he does it full justice, the tempo increases with Hit The City. This is one of my favourite Lanegan tracks, however, the live performance never manages to recreate P J Harvey’s vocal line which, on record, contrasts so exquisitely with Lanegan’s register. Ode To Sad Disco resonates with the majority of the crowd and you can hear many voices singing “Gloria” but I still can’t help thinking this is some form of dark humour on Lanegan’s behalf.

Mark Lanegan

With the exception of Sleep With Me, the end of the main set are taken from Phantom Radio. As an album, I am not as enamored with Phantom Radio compared with his other work, nevertheless, this live performance demonstrates Lanegan’s ability to insert a dark melancholic component that turns the most obvious tracks into songs of contemplative beauty. After nearly an hour and a half, the set draws to a close and not a moment has been wasted to between song banter, Mark’s comments are little more than “appreciate it”. The musicians do not leave the stage for long and return with a cover of the Soulsavers track Revival which is executed with precision and is pretty darn close to the original and ends up being one of the highlight’s of the set. I Am The Wolf and The Killing Season draw the performance to an end. As Lanegan has become such a prolific artist with such an extensive back catalogue, it reduces the chances of hearing your favourite pieces, irrespective of this, though, he consistently delivers a stupendous concert and his vocal talent is undeniable. Furthermore, he is an artist that has stayed true to his calling, forging his own path and collaborating with such a varied selection of musicians that you can never be certain what he may produce next.

Mark Lanegan

Even though, Phantom Radio hasn’t resonated wholeheartedly with my musical taste, it is refreshing to see a musician explore an array of avenues rather than stick to a tried and tested path. And, certainly, after seeing the tracks performed live, my appreciation for the album has grown. It would be remiss of me not to mention the scuffle that ensued after the show which appeared to be because someone had felt the need to talk throughout Mark’s set and a disgruntled member of the audience took it upon themselves to teach the offender a lesson. Not that I am condoning violence but if you don’t want to listen to a performer then leave the room; Lanegan’s music is not overly loud and it requires concentrated listening and if you are not willing to invest in the music then please don’t ruin it for the others who do.

Set List:
When Your Number Isn’t Up
Judgement Time
Dead on You
The Wild People
Low
No Bells on Sunday
Resurrection Song
The Gravedigger’s Song
Harvest Home
Quiver Syndrome
One Way Street
Deepest Shade (The Twilight Singers cover)
Hit the City
Ode to Sad Disco
Floor of the Ocean
Torn Red Heart
Sleep With Me
Death Trip to Tulsa
Encore:
Revival (Soulsavers cover)
I Am the Wolf
The Killing Season

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