I have seen many, many rock acts over the decades I’ve been going to watch bands play live but until yesterday I can honestly say I have never really seen someone who epitomised Rock until I went to see Mark Lanegan and his band at the Festival and that’s not because I’ve been living under a rock (or Roll), Dear Reader, over the last 20 or so years I’ve seen most of the major alternative rock or metal acts, including Metallica, Rage Against The Machine, Marilyn Manson, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, to name but a few. The closest that I’ve seen is Josse Homme from Queens of the Stone Age and here’s a coincidence, Mark has worked on a number of QotSA (as they’re more commonly referred to) albums – and the two are great friends – but as cool and as rock Josse may be, he doesn’t come close to Lanegan.
Now you may think that Lanegan’s actions were excessive in some shape or fashion, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. With the lights dimming on the stage, the rest of the band, all dressed in black took up their positions and Mark ambled up to the microphone also clad in black and surveyed the crowd with an intense stare greeting us as he did, the hello being one of five words he said all evening, these being “hello”, “thank you” (he did say these a number of times) and “Good Afternoon”. His quiet brooding between songs, which themselves were somber yet intense, added to his menacing stage presence, a presence which eludes to a life that has seen the darker sides of life. His voice also hints at the ravages of excess, the deep baritone tones sounding like he’s been gargling with broken glass, which might not be far from the truth. Between chorus and verses, Mark gazed into the crowd so that you felt here was a man who was on the edge, who could explode at any time and take most of the festival goers with him.
With his set finished he thanked us all and bid us a good afternoon before slowly walking off the stage in such a manner that you wouldn’t think he’d been singing such evocative songs for the last 45 minutes – leaving the tent, I must have his allocation of adrenaline as I was on a complete high. I’ve tried, in my limited fashion, to purvey the experience but reading it through – it’s sadly lacking – instead go and watch this and even this doesn’t come close. It certainly was intense in the tents*
* He was performing in a large, in fact very large, marque.
** had some very late night with the festival.