Although he arrived in our ears organically armed with one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll voices of all time, Mark Lanegan has spent three decades shifting between a host different vehicles that have showcased his talents in the most versatile of ways.
With this in mind, the prospect of a tour simply entitled An evening with Mark Lanegan is particularly intriguing. The title alone conjures up some thoughts of a Nirvana Unplugged type vibe, or perhaps even Lanegan simply on his own with an acoustic guitar.
In the end neither comes to fruition and the resulting show is one that encompasses yet more thinking outside the box, creating a sonic feast inside a venue where the sound can occasionally be iffy.
Lanegan is accompanied by the evening’s support act and Heavenly Recordings label mate, Duke Garwood, as well as a second guitarist and bassist – but curiously there are no drums.
The result is a brooding and crooning set that beautifully glides through the night and presents Lanegan’s encapsulating vocal at its very best.
It’s a repertoire that spans the frontman’s career as well as taking on a number of interesting – and at times brave – covers.
There’s a wonderful rendition of Brook Benton’s (and later Gil-Scott Heron’s) ‘I’ll Take Care of You’ and Kurt Weill’s classic ‘Mack the Knife’. However, Lanegan’s reimagining of the latter couldn’t be further from the jazz hands of Broadway musicals. As one might expect it’s an all together darker interpretation. The entire room looks fixated.
The reworks just get more and more sublime, too, with some hypnotic versions of Screaming Trees’ early grunge masterpieces. ‘Where the Twain Shall Meet’ is a triumph before a lengthy encore that reaches a crescendo with ‘Halo of Ashes’.
Now in his fifties, Lanegan appears to getting better with age, gracefully embracing the experience and wisdom that now oozes from each gravelly tone he treats his audience to. Tonight has been a masterclass from a musician who just keeps on going from strength to strength. It must make others with waning fortunes want to give up.