Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mark Lanegan, February 9 at the Echoplex

I’ve seen Mark Lanegan a number of times -- as part of Queens of the Stone Age and the Gutter Twins, with Isobel Campbell, as a guest-star at a Greg Dulli show -- though never by himself, with his own band.  Apparently he prefers to collaborate with others more than stand on his own (or he's in high demand to work with and he has no reason to not go along with it).  The man doesn't even seem always to enjoying himself, certainly not trying to attract any attention, but he's such a naturally gifted singer, a great performer in an anti-hero kind of way, a substantial poet, and a powerful, dusky presence, that there's no reason he shouldn't keep pushing it.  It doesn’t take much to get me to go to a show at the Echoplex when there’s someone there we want to see, and Carla is an even bigger Lanegan fan than me so we got tickets and went. The show was as dour as could be expected, Lanegan and his band just ripping through the set with little extra sound coming from the stage, though we got a rare “thank you” after one song at some point.  I’m not as familiar with the deeper cuts in his catalog, I actually only had Bubblegum at the time (though it was represented in the set-list), but as there aren’t any easily-recognizable pop songs or singles, the whole thing became a thick, heavy sludge of pounding sound.  The band created the darkness that Lanegan drags with him, but it’s more bleak than depressing, and the distinct difference comes out in the music.  The crowd was definitely appropriate for the music, dark and still, though not a good group to share a night of great music: I’ve been in L.A. for a while and I’ve been to a lot of shows and been in a lot of crowds filled with people who are too cool to show any kind of reaction to what they’re hearing or seeing or have no idea who the band is in the first place and they're more interested in doing anything but seeing the band, often bored and/or intoxicated into silence, but this was by far the deadest crowd I’d ever seen at a show.  In the dark, you might have even forgotten that there was anyone else there, except that the place was hot and packed body-to-body.  But it didn’t bother us.  The house-lights were down the whole time, approximating the tone of the music, and there were no guest-stars to return the favor to Lanegan, though one lady singer approximated some of the PJ Harvey parts.  We met up with Zara & Bryan and the girls were dancing the whole time -- I don't know how they could find a groove there but they were enthusiastic about it, which is more than could be said about the crowd.  Then there was the lone guy at the front that hollered “YOU RULE” at some point.  So there were at least five of us who had a good time that night (and that may not even count Lanegan himself).  And I don't know if it was technically considered just Lanegan or if it was the Mark Lanegan Band -- I saw it billed both ways.  I reckon it doesn't matter anyway.  Sean Wheeler & Zander Schloss opened the show and we were there while they were playing but we were drinking and not paying much attention

Mark Lanegan’s set-list:
"Can't Come Down"
"The Gravedigger's Song"
"Bleeding Muddy Water"
"Sleep With Me"
"Hit the City"
"Wedding Dress"
"Resurrection Song"
"Harborview Hospital"
"Quiver Syndrome"
"One Hundred Days"
"Creeping Coastline of Lights" (Leaving Trains cover)
"Riot in My House"
"Ode to Sad Disco"
"Wish You Well"
"St. Louis Elegy"
"Methamphetamine Blues"
"Tiny Grain of Truth"

"When Your Number Isn't Up"
"One Way Street"