It's not just hot, it's sweltering, 31 degrees in the Midlands, not a cloud in the sky and no breeze whatsoever to make this day a little more bearable. With that in mind 200 like minded folk pack into the tiny second room at the O2 Institute in Birmingham for the legendary Mark Lanegan opening his UK tour.
With him are two opening acts for our listening pleasure, first of which is Lyenn. A timid looking man takes to the stage, alone, just him and his plethora of guitars instruments. The softly spoken man apologies for the heat before starting into the opening, gentle, folk number. The serene guitar sound and mild mannered vocals wind through the shirt twenty five minute set, volume never rising, the crowd appreciating every minute of the short solo set.
Duke Garwood is a different kettle of fish altogether. Whilst still the solo act, he does at least have a drummer on stage to back up his own guitar and vocals. The Londoner has a deep gritty vocal offering which accompanies his experimental blues sound perfectly. The drums keep rhythm and time whilst keeping the tone darker than your average blues. Garwood works the neck of his guitar to perfection, squeezed my every drop of sound out of those strings. If you like a dark, progressive blues sound, Duke has everything on offer for you.
Mark Lanegan is one of those artists who probably does need an introduction, but when you tell someone about him they then immediately know who you mean. Most well known these days for his membership of Queens of the Stone Age his career really started way back in the 80's with Screaming Trees and his solo work has included collaborations with the likes of Kurt Cobain and Duff McKagan. Having read that I'm sure you're all nodding no your heads in agreement that you have indeed crossed paths with this musical maestro in some way shape or form.
Lanegan takes to the stage with a full backing band, a darkly lit stage hiding his compatriots in the shadows as he takes up the mic. Mark is not the archetypal frontman, shy and unassuming on stage the low light helps him blend into the darkness letting his voice lead the way. And what a rough, gritty, majestic voice it is.
Opening with Death's Head Tattoo, a low yellow light shines upon his face as he leads the band through the opening number off his new album, Gargoyle. Dark, deeply descriptive vocals echo out across the packed room thumping
bass as accompaniment. Much of the first half of the set features songs from the latest album Gargoyle. Delight from fans as both Goodbye to Beauty and Head get make their very first live appearances in this basement room in the depths of Digbeth.
The rhythm continues, grunge rooted music dripping in experimental blues rock and a hint of electronica. Lanegan may not give the typical on stage performance, there is no bravado, machismo you would expect from a front man. Just a humble gent plying his trade behind the microphone and delivering perfectly. A two hour set closed with the inimitable Death Trip to Tulsa. In the live arena, just as on record, Lanegan never fails in the delivery of musician ship that is second to none. A live show, without theatrics but one of the best musical experiences you could possibly have.