fri 29/05/2020

Mark Lanegan Band, Roundhouse review - rocking reiteration of Mr Gruff’s persona | reviews, news & interviews

Mark Lanegan Band, Roundhouse review - rocking reiteration of Mr Gruff’s persona

Mark Lanegan Band, Roundhouse review - rocking reiteration of Mr Gruff’s persona

Goth-edged attack is offset by upper-body swaying

Mark Lanegan ponders whether next year's publication of his autobiography will raise his profileTravis Keller

It’s not about spontaneity. Bar switching the order of a couple of songs at the beginning and during the encore, the set was the same as a couple of days earlier in Paris. And, just-before that, in Turnout, Belgium.

It’s not about spontaneity. Bar switching the order of a couple of songs at the beginning and during the encore, the set was the same as a couple of days earlier in Paris. And, just-before that, in Turnout, Belgium. The first UK date on Mark Lanegan and his band’s European tour didn’t deviate much – odd other songs have cropped up during this excursion – from what they’ve been doing since hitting the trail in the last week of October.

Instead, it’s about reiterating what Mark Lanegan is about. The gruffness. The lack of chit-chat – beyond a couple of acknowledgments, he limited himself to one between-song “thank you” and a few “thank you very much” declarations. The meat-and-potatoes stance. During the songs, he stood still at the microphone though during “Emperor” there was some head and upper-body swaying. Rounding out the picture, the encore featured a version of “Hangin’ Tree” his Queens of the Stone Age collaboration. Despite this commercial peak, the show wasn't sold out.

The Depeche Mode/New Order slant wasn’t as apparent as on recent album ‘Somebody’s Knocking’

The tour comes on the back of his recent Mark Lanegan Band album Somebody’s Knocking, which expanded on the electro-dance aspects of 2017’s Gargoyle. The evening opened with Somebody’s Knocking’s first cut “Disbelief Suspension”. The album’s “Gazing From the Shore”, “Dark Disco Jag”, “Night Flight to Kabul”, “Penthouse High” and “Stitch it Up” were also performed. Live, with bass, drums, guitar and a guitarist doubling on keyboards, the Depeche Mode/New Order slant wasn’t as apparent as on the album but “Penthouse High” sported some hot Stephen Morris drumming and the dika-dika-dika guitar of New Order’s “Temptation”.

Contrastingly, for his solo work the furthest back he reached was with a few songs from 2004’s Bubblegum. Given his comments in recent interviews about his old band Screaming Trees, it’s unlikely that "Gospel Plow" aside he’ll be looking earlier to before their 2000 break up. However, he did sing “Deepest Shade”, the song by former Afghan Whig Greg Dulli’s band The Twilight Singers which he recorded on his 2013 covers album Imitations.

Fewer people were around for the encore

So, various aspects of Mark Lanegan present at The Roundhouse with his band’s goth-edged line of attack bringing the unifying factor. As they’re effectively a rock outfit – showcased laceratingly on the riff-rock of the encore’s “Gospel Plow” – the stripped-back arrangements allowed odd references to bubble up. The live “Disbelief Suspension” evokes Suicide’s “Ghost Rider”. “Stitch it Up” comes across as a triple-speed “Sympathy For the Devil”. “Ode to Sad Disco’s” Mellotron-type keyboard nods to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. More distracting was some grandstanding from the main guitarist who tacked Spanish-leaning intros onto a couple of songs, and hung around on stage making squealing noises with his instrument following the rest of the band’s departure after the set. He also did a post-encore merchandise sales pitch, saying Lanegan would be coming out for a signing session.

Although fine at the beginning, the sound was tricky. When overloud drums kicked in at the four-song point, everything apart from Lanegan’s voice was rendered mushy. The bass drum was inaudible (this is said from the point of view of being in the middle of the balcony’s front row and listening with and without ER25 attenuators). Nonetheless, Lanegan’s extraordinary voice cut through. But perhaps that wasn’t enough, as a fair amount of the audience left after the hour-and-20-minute set; for the encore, noticeably fewer people were around across the whole venue.

Next April, Lanegan's profile will increase when his autobiography Sing Backwards and Weep is published. It’s trailed as including frank accounts of his life’s lows. Perhaps this will hold attentions more effectively than this show.

The sound was tricky: overloud drums rendered everything apart from Lanegan’s voice mushy

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Interesting comments - I was there too. To me Mark possesses the best voice in rock, and they did play a screaming trees song last night (Gospel Plow from Dust album). That was the highlight; the acoustics weren’t great last night, and the backing tracks took the shine off the band. I am an old school fan; I do like some of the newer stuff but his touring band last year with Duke Garwood was much stronger, including the drummer. At times it seemed muted, but his voice came through. But despite all that, no one else sounds like him, a legend!

Loved the brooding darkness of Lanegan’s voice but was really blown away by the Membranes who were dark, thrilling and captivating and got a great response do such an early slot.

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