Mark Lanegan might be my favourite male singer of all time, with a gravelly cigarettes-and-alcohol baritone that sounds so richly lived-in and is deceptively controlled and flexible. And he looks like his voice too – like a person who’s lived through some dark and troubled times. His pipes have become more brittle with years and these days Lanegan sounds less like he’s about to jump out of the speakers and punch you in the face, and his lower register on Gargoyle is almost Leonard Cohen-esque. But his grizzled vocals are no less compelling for that.
These latest two albums continue the experimentation with electronica and synths that first appeared on the 2012 Blues Funeral, while retaining the trademark dark bluesy vibes and oblique lyrics full of macabre gothic imagery and ruminations on sin, death, love and redemption. Business as usual in other words, but as long as his output remains this strong and consistent I’m not complaining. Now bring on the tour!
Saw Laura Marling at the beautiful Hamer Hall yesterday – she performed as part of the Melbourne Festival. Monday night is a weird night for a concert, but then a break in the routine is always nice. I arrived early and lingered around for a while, observing the arty/hipsterish crowd and trying not to have a second helping of the hideously overpriced ice cream. The supporting act, D.D Dumbo, was short and sweet, surprisingly short in fact – I don’t think he was onstage for longer than half an hour. It was just one guy, armed with a bunch of pedals, where he’d record a sample of a drum beat or guitar and then let it loop over and over and gradually build a song up. This layering technique is always fun to watch live, and the music was pretty good, I even recognised one of the tracks since they played it quite a bit on Triple J. The crowd chat was minimal and he didn’t even introduce himself, which obviously bothered a guy in the audience who cried out, “what’s your name??” before the very last song. Strangely enough, he introduced himself under his real name, Oliver.