With artists like Mark Lanegan it’s never about career, virtuosity, contribution to music history or performance stage settings. But he is not a specialist in shining darkness or chasing demons away either. He has a voice so authentic and sincere that makes the need for absurd fantastic fairytales to fade. He’s the reason for which sadness makes sense. He’s simply disarming.
Mark Lanegan was on stage in Brussels on 30 and 31 October, at Flagey’s Studio 4 during his European Acoustic 2013 Tour. He had Duke Garwood and Lyenn as support acts but also as live band members.
Fred Lyenn, a Belgian singer-songwriter with British origins, was a marvelous discovery for me. Accompanied only by his guitars, he sings like an angel fallen with no fault into purgatory. With a vocal range which transits from tenderness and delicacy to abandon and despair, he is able to create deep resonance into the most hidden emotional layers of the audience. Duke Garwood, who recently recorded the album Black Pudding with Mark Lanegan, followed on stage also for a singer-songwriter recital, this time to bring us experimental and dark toned blues in a country gothic manner.
There is no easy way to describe the ambiance of Mark Lanegan’s concert. Studio 4 is a perfect venue for classical performances, Mark Lanegan’s band members were so close to that: voice, guitar, bass, cello, violin and woodwinds.
The setlist generously covered Lanegan’s recent discography. The last couple of years were particularly busy for him, he released four albums. We could enjoy The Gravedigger’s Song from the magnificent Blues Funeral, Mirrored from Bubblegum, a fine selection from the cover album Imitations – Pretty Colors (Frank Sinatra), Solitaire (Neil Sedaka), You Only Live Twice (Nancy Sinatra), Mack the Knife (Bobby Darin). With Duke Garwood on stage there were of course songs from Black Pudding – Cold Molly, Pentacostal and Mescalito, just to mention a few.
The acoustics in Studio 4 was more than perfect to create the mourning atmosphere for a song like Driver, one of the most moving moments of the evening.
And still, as if the evening was not melancholic enough, he surprised the audience right in the middle of the recital with a kind and subtle tribute to Lou Reed, performing Satellite of Love.
I don’t know how, but within such an impressively extended recital, there was still place for Can’t Catch the Train which he recorded with Soulsavers or for older songs like On Jesus’ Program or even the Screaming Trees’ Halo of Ashes which he chose to close the show with.
But no matter how sad and sorrowed the songs, Mark Lanegan’s voice casts upon them a compelling sentiment of velvet comfort. With such voice and deep genuineness, Mark Lanegan can do whatever he wants. Even to turn everything into a lullaby.