Mark Lanegan: A voice that doesn't need to scream to be heard

Lanagen has performed in Israel on many occasions

July 29, 2018 04:47
2 minute read.
Mark Lanegan: A voice that doesn't need to scream to be heard

Mark Lanegan. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Since the last time former Screaming Trees front man and sometime Queens of the Stone Age collaborator Mark Lanegan visited these shores, another of his contemporaries tragically lost his battle with depression.

Along with Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley, Chris Cornell was among Lanegan’s friends who had emerged from the ‘grunge’ music scene of the early 90s, and standing on stage last night at the Barby in Tel Aviv, looking strong but weathered, Lanegan carried the weight of tragedy in his music. 

Possessing a voice that is at once soft and harsh, his songs immerse the audience in the dark side of life through his unique take on the blues.

With the aid of a tight and well-oiled touring band who use their instruments sparingly, Lanegan’s songs possess a cool moodiness that doesn't need to be loud and indulgent to be powerful, at times allowing his voice to be more gentle as his tunes retreat to a more softer sound.

And with the addition of a female vocalist in his band, who joined him for a few songs, there were lighter shades to his brooding repertoire.

Lanegan has a vast back catalogue of music from his previous collaborations and, of course, from his time fronting the Screaming Trees, but he stuck to material from more recent solo albums, refusing to play safe and live in the past while showing his continued growth as an artist.

Opening with “Death’s Head Tattoo” from his most recent album Gargoyle, and then going into “The Gravedigger’s Song,” from Phantom Radio, he displayed more of an electronic influence in his music.

Standing still while griping his mic-stand tightly with his tattooed knuckles on display, Lanegan sang with a deep intensity unmatched by most singers working today.

He didn't say much during the night, mostly thanking the crowd with his raspy voice. If you came to watch a front man shake his hips and jump around like Mick Jagger or Iggy Pop then you would have been disappointed. Lanegan isn’t a showman and comes from a different school of Rock, where the music does the talking.

Songs such as “Riot in my House,” and “Nocturne,” hit hard as he sang eyes closed concentrating on every word, baring his soul as the audience mostly stood motionless and watched in awe.

Other high points included the haunting “One Way Street” and the lilting “Torn Red Heart,” highlighting some of Lanegan’s most beautiful songs from his musical vault.

"Ode to Sad Disco," with its heavy base and pulsating beat almost got some of the packed audience moving, sounding like Depeche Mode if they a had made a pact with the devil.

After closing his set with "Death Trip to Tulsa," Lanegan and his band came back for one encore, playing a very fitting cover of Joy Division's "Atmosphere."                                         

Lanagen has performed in Israel on many occasions, and with his audience growing each time, hopefully he will return again to bring his unique and powerful voice back to these shores.

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