Mark Lanegan – The Garage, Aberdeen – 28/08/12
Last night’s sold out ‘one off’ show at the newly re-opened Garage venue by the largely underground and underrated artist Mark Lanegan and his band was a gig fans had been waiting to see for quite some time.
The one time Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age and Gutter Twins frontman has played numerous gigs in the central belt over the years but never travelled this far North to share his wily wares as a songsmith and second- to- none singer.
He’s a talented old boy is Mr Lanegan, regularly collaborating with some of the best artists around. I mean, PJ Harvey sang backing vocals on his last album, Slash played guitar, and Scotland’s premier spooky singer Isobel Campbell of Belle and Sebastian fame has recorded many a tune with him, notably the fab album, ‘Hawk.’
He is a prolific collaborator almost shirking his own genius to share with other talented folks to make a ‘body of work then move on.’ (His words not mine).
These are hugely talented folk in their own right, but happy to share a song or two with Lanegan, who is one of the most original singer songwriters to grace our ear-waves for many a year.
Enough about the past, last night was all about the present and being ‘in the moment’ with ‘the man’.
The support for the evening was the Creature with the Atom Brain, and I really liked them. Somewhere between the 13th Floor Elevators, ‘mellow’ Butthole Surfers (if such a thing exists) and a more psychedelic Beach Boys. These guys were good. I couldn’t help being transported back to a brilliant Julian Cope gig I had been to many years back during the Peggy Suicide years, when Cope swayed, jammed and funkily rocked his way through about ten years of great gigs. But it could also just be that the lead singer really reminded me of Cope, who knows, safe to say they were good.
Anyhow, the support band did their job…the sound was trance rock with layered guitars and build up vocals and they were worthy. They have a new album out called The Birds Fly Low. I’ve listened to a few tracks this morning, on the back of last night’s show, and realised that in fact these guys are better than good, they are excellent….so I am sending out many successful music vibes to the ‘brains bunch’ as we called them last night, because we deemed their name ‘too long’ for comfort…we are lazy I guess, two words tops for a band name is my formula, and I’m sticking to it.
Now to the main event, Mark Lanegan, the guy with the gravel voice who can write songs about dark things, love stuff, light nights and birds. The first thing you notice when Lanegan gets on stage is that he isn’t entirely comfortable there. I have found this with truly extraordinary artists, they don’t strut and stomp, they don’t have to, they have this humble ability to just ‘be’ and let the music speak for itself.
Lanegan is painfully shy, although I wouldn’t want to antagonise him in any way, I think he has had his battles to fight over the years and faced some ‘situations’ is his life, but that said there was no aggression here, just all out performance.
It’s remarkable really that a guy that feels this uncomfortable in the spotlight would stand centre stage and sing his heart out for 90 minutes for a crowd of hard to please Aberdonians, but he did just that, winning the crowd over with a luscious set of ‘ let it rip’ laments and melodies.
I am not a set list person, I can never remember song for song what was played, in what order and how folks reacted, because when a gig is this good I am in it with them, the performers I mean.
There were some personal ‘stand out’ tracks for me. Namely ‘One Hundred Days’ and ‘Hit the City’ from the Bubblegum album, ‘Ode to Sad Disco’ from current album Blues Funeral Lanegan’s slightly uncomfortable take on an almost there ‘dance’ track. ‘Sleep with Me’ from ‘Here Comes that Weird Chill’, a preview EP to Bubblegum, was salacious in its delivery to say the least. ‘Harbourview Hospital’ also from the new Blues Funeral was excellent.
The full set and encore pulsed along, helped greatly by the immense backing band. This is what I love about acts like Lanegan coming to Aberdeen. On the whole quality folk like this bring with them brilliant backing musicians. Showing a fair amount of light handed play and tight, heavy guitar and drums, this backing group were exceptional, setting Lanegan’s songs up with a wall of groovy, bluesy sound allowing his voice to carry the rest.
According to gig junkie Le JoJo, who accompanied me last night, gave me the ticket in fact, he doesn’t always come back on for encores, but Lanegan shuffled on again for three more final gravel covered tunes that went down really well with the fans. He even went out to the merchandise stand afterwards to sign cd’s and chat to fans, get his photo taken all the stuff you imagine makes him really uncomfortable, what a guy.
Never one to over converse with audiences, his songs say it all for him, Lanegan thanked ‘Aberdeen’ and said it had been ‘a pleasure.’
This guy is shadowless in my opinion. What I mean by that is that he doesn’t stand in anyone’s shadow artistically and no-one can stand in his. He really is a unique talent. The voice is peerless and the songwriting accomplished and real.
Last night’s show was my gig of the year so far in Aberdeen-and it’s August. Musicians, bands, promoters and venue owners take note. In Aberdeen we like good music. We will pay hard money to go and see it. So, it’s a no brainer really. Come up North to play and the people will come in their droves to see it.
It’s interesting that this is Lanegan’s first gig in Aberdeen but it proves, once again, that there is an appetite here for more than your ‘run of the mill’ exhibition centre type shows and if promoters are canny enough to bring good musicians to the North-east the people will buy tickets. It was packed at the Garage last night and folk were really up for it. After a string of gigs in Glasgow and Edinburgh over the last few years let’s hope that Lanegan and his band mark Aberdeen down as a place they want to come back to. Based on last night’s very appreciative crowd, how could they not?
Review by Angela Michael – Music Lover
Pics by Ska Dude
Mark Lanegan Band Website
Creature with the Atom Brain Website