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Mark Lanegan: The Academy, 29/4/10

May 4, 2010

So this review was written for a very particular format – ie. a magazine review that will remain unpublished – and so contains very little in the way of colour or funnies, and it’s pretty damn short. But no sense in it going completely unused, eh? For an increased quotient of giggles, point your peepers over at all the stuff I’ve been writing on ZME recently.

After being unfairly ignored throughout the 90’s, Mark Lanegan made it almost impossible to avoid hearing his voice for much of the last decade. His world-weary baritone graced albums from acts as diametrically opposed as Isobel Campbell and Queens of the Stone Age (nabbing a Mercury nomination for the former, natch). So it’s unusual that while forgotten bland-rockers Idlewild play the Academy, Lanegan casts his imposing shadow across the tiny Academy 2.

Not that the smaller setting is a drawback. This show sees Lanegan stripping his act down to the bare essentials: Gutter Twins cohort Dave Rosser’s percussive acoustic guitar work, and that voice. That broken, perfect voice. The setlist is splendid, ranging from obscure Screaming Trees treats all the way through to the delicate Can’t Catch The Train from Lanegan’s work with the Soulsavers.

Highlights are many: the swirling melodies of No Easy Action that fade into the bluesy Miracle; the menacing call-and-response of Resurrection Song; and best of all, an astonishingly raw performance of On Jesus’ Program that draws two separate rounds of applause from the mesmerised crowd.

Then a brief encore, a barely-whispered goodbye, and he stalked off again. I’m not sure he opened his eyes once.

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