Find me an artist who has lived, breathed and would die for his music more than this man we've gathered here to see tonight, and you're a better person than me. Having reached a half century in age, he shows no signs of slowing down either in recording terms or his relentless touring schedule.
We'd thank our lucky stars if he popped over to these shores every five years or so. Incredibly, it's only been two years since we were last here in the Leeds Beckett University to see him and since then we've also ticked off a stripped back acoustic encounter, over at the Leeds College Of Music in November 2014. He could very well bypass this fair city like many other artists from across the pond and just do the big smokes of the nations. But no, a dozen or so venues across the UK will be graced with his presence before he moves on into Europe covering a ridiculous amount of mileage through many countries until mid March.
He appears as ever without warning, immediately striking that Mark Lanegan trademark pose - clutching the mic stand with his right hand, his other heavily tattooed fingers wrap around the mic itself. His almost silhouetted image has become customary and we know the dark figure centre-stage will remain fairly static for the duration. A gentle start to the evening with just his guitarist Jeff Fielder by his side opening with 'When Your Number Isn't Up'. The remainder of the band appear a few songs in and will shimmer and shake a little (except for the bass player who is missing due to illness), but he will let the voice, THAT voice do all the entertaining necessary. Last time around inside these walls, we were blessed with the new 'Blues Funeral' songs off the back of the album. There's just a small handful this evening including the single 'Gravediggers Song' but the bulk of the set is peppered with tracks from the latest release 'Phantom Radio'. The crowd of captivated onlookers receive the new songs with warm applause and enthusiastic cheer.
|Photo by Steve Gullick|
His loyal army of followers have turned out in numbers on this cold January night in Leeds. They're a respectful lot, are the Lanegan fans. Mercifully, most people don't feel the need to talk over this guy (the average age in here being somewhat 'up there' which is a notable factor in this largely pleasurable hush). The back catalogue is a hefty beast when it comes to Mark Lanegan's music. Such a vast amount of songs to reach in and dust off. Thankfully a smattering of favourites get rightfully aired from albums gone before. The rousing 'Hit The City', the beautiful 'One Way Street' and staggeringly wonderful 'Low' go above and beyond to please even the most particular of fans this evening. Soulsavers 2007 hit 'Revival' coming in at the encore to cap the night off along with 'I Am The Wolf' and ' Killing Season'.
In a recent scarce interview, he disclosed his reconnection with former Screaming Trees member Van Connor, and when asked about the possibility of a reunion replied 'Never say never'. Please somehow find the time Mr Lanegan, please somehow find the time!
Mark Lanegan Official