Tearing immediately into ‘The Gravedigger’s Song’, solemn blues-rocker Mark Lanegan cuts straight to the bone with his full Belgian band that includes the immaculately coiffured hyper-guitarist, Steven Janssens. A vast thunderclap bass shoots through the speakers and punters feel the immense force of the power-ensemble at their final Australian show on the Blues Funeral Tour. With drummer Jean-Philippe De Gheest and bassist Frederic Jacques (both of Brussels outfit, Lyenn) building a gargantuan platform, which Lanegan feeds off, the 20-odd-song set is littered with climaxes. True to form, Lanegan never switches from his natural style and demeanour: hand on microphone, the other on the stand, eyelids all reptilian-like, and almost no interaction with the audience. But that’s Lanegan – all poise and concentration as he feels the blues and channels it out into the musical ether.
Warped, industrial-style Rowland S. Howard guitars and Aldo Struyf keys with added eerie guitar effects soon coil around Bubblegum
tracks, ‘Hit the City’ and ‘Wedding Dress’. While back-to-back Field Songs
tracks, ‘One Way Street’ and ‘Resurrection Song’, expose the more tender and melodious shades of the man’s character. Continuing to shift the set between old and new, ‘Gray Goes Black’, with its chronic beats and squalling riffs, leads into the classic Screaming Trees back-catalogue number, ‘Crawlspace’. Lanegan’s vocals aren’t quite at their severe and gravel-riddled best this evening, but this is understandable considering he’s backed up successive monster sets around the country, and the showcase still squanders none of its charm.
‘One Hundred Days‘ is typically blues-y with an indie-croon edge, as is the staple Lanegan cover of L.A. punk band The Leaving Trains’ ‘Creeping Coastline of Lights’. There’s also a candid nod of appreciation before ‘Coastline’ to one of the support acts of the night, with Lanegan tipping his hat to the legacy of Ron S. Peno. A slew of Blues Funeral
tunes slam hard thereafter from the grunge-y ‘Riot in My House’ to the electronic banquet of ‘Ode to Sad Disco’ and ‘Tiny Grain of Truth’. Something of an evolution in Lanegan’s sonic chronicle, the song’s attempt to merge his adoration for Joy Division, late ’80s Seattle-based grime and a little Krautrock. Reverence for the dude shoots to a whole new level too when not only does Lanegan’s encore include the likes of ‘Pendulum’ from 1994’s Whiskey for the Holy Ghost
belter, ‘Methamphetamine Blues’, but he hangs around post-show to sign merch and converse with devotees.
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