After 27 years of writing and recording with Screaming Trees, Queens Of The Stone Age, the Gutter Twins and all by his lonesome, Mark Lanegan makes music that sounds uniquely forged at the crossroads where the bluest blues and the darkest doom meet to bare-knuckle box in puddles of mud and blood and whiskey and just a dash of leftover uppers. He’s the sort of man to wear all black to a birth and sing through a funeral. On Tuesday night at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, he did both.
Lanegan celebrated the debut of Blues Funeral, his seventh solo album and first release as the five-piece Mark Lanegan Band, with a sold-out, two-hour concert that faithfully observed the memorial service chic his record promised. Lanegan dressed all in black, opened his mouth only to sing and stood tombstone-still through the whole set, owning a stage brightened only by red top lighting and the intermittent flash of cameras trying in vain to capture the essence of his dark ceremony.
The crowd, dominantly male and dominantly buzzed on Bud, took Lanegan’s solemnity for granted—one longtime fan described it as “his move”—and provided the night’s energy for him. Bros in backward QOTSA caps lurched along to the heavy chugging “Gravedigger’s Song,” and older bearded gents hugged ladies to their sides while Lanegan’s croaking baritone smoldered through slower tunes like “Wedding Dress” and “One Hundred Days.” Lanegan’s ex-wife, Wendy Rae Fowler, (dressed in all black, naturally) added sweet touches to Lanegan’s brooding sourpuss when she joined the band periodically throughout the set for older tracks including “Methamphetamine Blues.” The peck Lanegan gave his ex-honey as she left for the wings was the height of his emotional output for the evening.
The set paced eight of Blues Funeral’s 12 new tracks with favorites from Bubblegum and older solo releases, eventually closing on a Screaming Trees favorite during the encore. There wasn’t much Lanegan could’ve done on Tuesday night to piss off the sold-out crowd short of maybe calling it quits after one note. The evening’s disappointment came only after the encore of “Crawlspace” and “One Way Street,” when Lanegan closed on a pregnant pause instead of coming back for thirds. Scattered groans rose in tandem with the house lights, forcing fans to abide the 19-song set they received.
01. Can’t Come Down
02. Gravedigger’s Song
03. Bleeding Muddy Water
04. Sleep With Me
05. Hit The City
06. Wedding Dress
07. Resurrection Song
08. Harborview Hospital
09. Quiver Syndrome
10. One Hundred Days
11. Creeping Coastline Of Lights
12. Riot In My House
13. Ode To Sad Disco
14. Wish You Well
15. St. Louis Elegy
16. Methamphetamine Blues
17. Tiny Grain Of Truth
18. Crawlspace
19. One Way Street