For a Tuesday night the Glaswegian streets are almost non-recognizable, the cold weather that has been lurking around for a few weeks has certainly had a gloomy impact on everyone and a certain melancholy is palpable, as if the post-holiday blues had taken the city hostage and turned its inhabitants into hermits.
The venue fills up little by little before the lights go off; in this obscurity a few gangling silhouettes take over the stage and in the background the slow and desperate introduction of ‘When Your Number Isn’t Up’ echoes, making the whole crowd focus on the stage.
The metallic resonance of the first few tracks and the guttural vocals of the charismatic lead singer distort the air, at times resonating heavily on one’s eardrums (‘The Gravedigger’s Song’) and occasionally soothing and appeasing like an opiate remedy (‘Dead on You’; ‘Low’)
Every Laneganian gig is a surprise because of the prolific and huge musical material that Mark Lanegan and his band have been making over the years.
There is a sea of songs to choose from, and even then the band still finds the time to perform covers like ‘Deepest Shade’, where the lead singer’s words travel through the audience like melancholic vibrations.
But the growling singer does not only rely on this gloomy aspect of his music and sways the crowd to its liking with ‘Hit The City’, propelling the audience into a dejected frenzy.
The electricity that pervades the room extends after every track, and while the band hammers a few classics (‘Ode to Sad Disco’; ‘Riot in My House’), Lanegan turns into a shaman-like figure vociferating lyrics as if casting spells, hypnotising the whole crowd without any light effects.
It does not take long to the band to come back for a three-song encore; when ‘Methamphetamine Blues’ resonates finally as the last track Lanegan is no longer a human shape but a solid sculpture holding the microphone so tight that it seems to have morphed into one of his hands becoming an extension of a limb, a new essential organ fully functioning.
Some would say that tonight’s performance is sober, it is very true that Mr. Lanegan is tightwad with words when it comes to normal conversation, however he deploys so much while singing that at the end it really does not matter.
Words: Jeremy Veyret
Photos: Jayjay Robertson