Mark Lanegan at Union Chapel
Hugging the mic the entire evening, Mark Lanegan cut a lonesome, rugged figure playing to a seated audience at Union Chapel in Islington. With a career now spanning a couple of decades, Lanegan hails from rainy Seattle where he was part of the emerging grunge scene with the band Screaming Trees, and has collaborated with a great variety of artists from Nirvana to Moby. On this particular evening Lanegan, accompanied with his five-piece band, offered up a collection of his new album Imitations, along with some of his older material.
Lanegan opened with When Your Number isn’t Up, which has a steady, unerring beat and bass-line alongside dark and numbing lyricism that conveys the barren plains of the singer’s world: “I stay close to this frozen border”. The Union Chapel was a fitting setting for some of the spiritual ballads on display here such as a version of Cherry-Tree Carol. Drowsy third offering, War Memorial, depicted a bleak, desolate landscape of death. With chilling melodies in the first few songs, it was going to take something rousing from Lanegan to heat the place up.
Soon enough, on this brisk evening in November, Lanegan filled the hollow and majestic venue with the husky warmth of his baritone voice. In Cold Molly, with its call to “heat on up” and a funky bass and blues riff, Lanegan and the band did just that. The song is a great demonstration of the success of Lanegan’s collaboration with UK blues artist Duke Garwood (they joined forces earlier this year to produce album Black Pudding, and Garwood was here playing guitar).
The collection of more melodious numbers in the last third of the concert demonstrated a softer side to Lanegan and a greater range. New track Pretty Colors was a case in point – a touching song of love long-gone in which you could hear the singer almost howling at the moon. Lanegan’s cover of Mack the Knife was fantastic, as was his tribute to Lou Reed, Satellite of Love. A cover of O.V. Wright’s haunting blues number On Jesus’ Program received the biggest round of applause. By the end of the concert Mark Lanegan had everyone in the chapel on their feet roaring in delight.
Photos: Helen Parish
For further information and future events visit Mark Lanegan’s website here.
Watch the video for Cold Molly here: