This was a weird night indeed, and not just because I’m in Switzerland. I can’t remember quite how many Mark Lanegan shows I’ve been to, but it’s A Lot. Which seems kind of creepy, but there is method to all of this. It all kind of started in 2003(ish) when a bunch of us on his short-lived official message board decided to meet up and hang out, so visiting several shows to put names to sentences and posts, and I suppose it kind of stuck from then on.
Fast-forward a decade, and most of those friendships remain, more have been added and a couple have fallen by the wayside. And I’ve stopped posting with a girl’s name, something that seemed funny at the time and was a great way of being anonymous but an array of bewildering private messages soon put the mockers on that. Anyway, all of this preamble stems from a pre-gig decision to pare this all down as frankly it’s costing me a fortune. Nights such as this remind me what a privilege it is to do so.

Starting off tonight was a strange set from Frederic Lyenn and Aldo Struyf, playing along to a video comprising of images of Faye Dunaway, a needle on a record and what was a rescoring of Bo Mathorne’s incredible Backwater Gospel animation. Certainly unexpected, certainly odd, but rather compelling.
Next up, Duke Garwood, who continues to polish his current rising star with a typically hypnotic set taken from his new Heavy Love album, accompanied by his drummer Paul May. Duke’s sets have become a lot more controlled of late, which is something of a miracle considering when he and Paul play together they are so into what they’re doing that it’s quite astonishing that their individual musical worlds come together so well.
Onto the main act, and the set started as previous ones, with Mark Lanegan taking the stage with guitarist Jeff Fielder for a brief set of three mellower songs, before the rest of the band joined them. Starting this main set contained a huge surprise when the band started playing Morning Glory Wine, a song that gently paved the way for a collection of songs that got gradually louder and invited the audience to do likewise.
Highlights as always were plentiful and soon supplanted by the next one. Blues Funeral songs such as Gray Goes Black and Riot In My House sit well alongside older tracks like Hit The City and Sleep With Me. The biggest cheers came from old set-closer Methamphetamine Blues that started the encore and Ode To Sad Disco that propped up the main set. It’s strange that this song in particular is the one that really gets audiences moving as there was nothing like it in his canon prior to it, but it’s serving well as a cornerstone to both his live shows and his career to date.
In addition, it’s a genuine pleasure to see Mark finally looking like he’s enjoying his music just as much as the rest of us. Even less-lit than usual (if indeed that can be possible. If unluminated is a real word, it would certainly apply), Mark was dancing at his microphone stand and grinning away, offering more “thankyou”s than usual and joking with the audience prior to his deserved encore.
I’ve seen a lot of these shows, and with every one I’ve walked away with the feeling that I’ve been to something special. I may be seeing fewer of these in future, but that’s certainly not going to stop me from enjoying the ones I go to.

Set List:

Solo with Jeff
When Your Number Isn’t Up
Judgement Time

Main Set
Morning Glory Wine
Harvest Home
The Gravedigger’s Song
One Way Street
Gray Goes Black
Deepest Shade
Hit The City
Ode To Sad Disco
Riot In My House
Harbourview Hospital
Floor Of The Ocean
Torn Red Heart
Sleep With Me
Death Trip To Tulsa

Methamphetamine Blues
I Am The Wolf (with Duke Garwood)
The Killing Season (with Duke Garwood)