“THIS is the best thing I’ve ever seen you play,” hollered one acolyte at the precise point the pre-encore applause died down.
Mark Lanegan smirked and shifted his weight, clearly not used to such affection during sets in which he remains taciturn throughout, for the most part. “Yeah, well,” rumbled the wiry, black-clad Seattle rocker, “I’m enjoying it myself. We got that much in common.”
Lanegan has appeared onstage in these parts in various guises over the years, including as a member of Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age and the Gutter Twins, and in a successful collaborative clash of vocal styles with former Belle and Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell, but something about this show suggested it was more personal than most. It melded his two main projects of the year, with much of his own material coming from the recent Black Pudding album alongside London musician Duke Garwood (who played guitar here, amid a backing group predominated by electric and orchestral strings), and a lengthy interlude mining songs from his even more up-to-date covers record Imitations, which he selected from his parents’ record collection.
Of these, it was thrilling to hear his subsonic growl – by turns lascivious and a beacon of damaged masculinity – churn its way through You Only Live Twice and Neil Sedaka’s Solitaire, while the crooning menace of Mack the Knife came dangerously close to declaring itself definitive.
By these standards, a timely take on Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love was almost dainty, but well-received.