Two men, two albums, one show….
The idyllic setting of the Union Chapel Hall in Islington played host to two remarkable musicians, Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood. And these pair of talents treated a packed house to not one, but two albums worth of material. And here is how it all went down.
First album – Black Pudding
The moment Duke Garwood arrives on the stage to warm cheers and applause from an anticipating crowd, the title track of the first of the two albums to be performed, Black Pudding, begins in earnest until a huge cheer greets the arrival of Mark Lanegan. And so, the night of music begins with Lanegan cutting an imposing, yet soulful, figure and Garwood giving off a cool blues vibe, aided by a more than capable duo of percussionists. The flamenco style guitar getting proceedings off to a great start, which is then followed in tandem by Pentacostal. And Lanegan growls his way through the song in a classic blues vocal, whilst Garwood provides the ample guitar support.
War Memorial follows soon after, a wonderful retrospect on a tale told through a soldier’s side. With Garwood on the clarinet and Lanegan offering sympathetic vocals, this one goes down a treat. Mescalito is the fourth song in and is album perfect, with all four musicians making sure that every song sounds just like it’s being listened to in the comforts of the home.
Sphinx is the next offering from the outing of the first album, and Lanegan whispers his way through this gentile song and Garwood really shows off his guitar skills once again. Underrated shouldn’t even be a word with a musician as good as Garwood. Last Rung is a proper slow blues number and sounds sublime in the surroundings of the church hall, as the audience give their appreciation greatly to an already great gig. Driver follows after that, with Lanegan and his deep, blues vocals doing justice once again to Garwood and his guitar playing.
And then comes the song of the night, for me anyway, in the shape of Death Rides A White Horse. A dark, blues number that gripped the audience from beginning to end. A brilliant song. Thank You is the next song and does feature a guitar-come-violin, which is handled by Lanegan whilst multi tasking on vocal duties. Rock stars, eh! Cold Molly goes into a more funky blues mood, with Garwood getting in the backing vocal duties along side Lanegan. Shade Of The Sun is the penultimate song from the first set before a terrific first half ends with Manchester Special. So far, so very very good.
Second album – With Animals
And so, after a short break, it’s on to the second set with the airing of the recent release, With Animals. And it starts with Save Me, and it keeps in principal with the sound of the first album, with Lanegan keeping up his whisper like vocals, with Garwood always in musical tandem. It then goes straight into Feast To Famine. A captivating song that had the audience in the palm of its hand from the beginning.
My Shadow Life is the third one in, and Lanegan softly growls his way through the vocals once again, with Garwood adorning the clarinet, just as they did in the first half of the show. Upon Doing Something Wrong follows on, and a more apologetic vocal from Lanegan for this song, but never losing any of the soft blues that has been evident in the show so far. L.A Blue reverts back to good old rock-blues, with the whole band standing in the same position, yet never seemingly breaking a sweat. Really doing the Union Chapel Hall a great service of a very different kind to what they are more used to.
Scarlett is the stand out song of the second session, with slide guitars leading the way as Lanegan continues to encapsulate the audience with his terrific range of vocals. Lonesome Infidel follows with Garwood once again joining Lanegan on vocals, and with a small infant (complete with ear defenders, don’t worry) in front of me with mum and dad, it’s a song that gently rocks the cradle of anyone. Not a bad first gig for the child either.
Title track, With Animals, is up next and returns to a more darker scene yet still remains captivating. If you haven’t heard this album, then you need to. The standard of songs on there are on an equal footing when it comes to being played live, as tonight has shown. Ghost Stories is another haunting number that still has the audience rooted to the spot, but has an intriguing grip on everybody too. The enjoyment it brings though is without question.
Spaceman gives the night a bit of groove, with Lanegan and Garwood playing and singing the blues to great effect. Not your usual orthodox blues groove, but it works. One Way Glass is one number that quite a few members of the audience have been waiting for, given the baited excitement this song brings. And they aren’t disappointed either, as Lanegan goes for the smoother blues vocal this time and does it so well. Desert Song ends the second part of the two album gig in the subtle fashion that it ends the album and gets rich applause by a generous audience. And with two more songs, I Am The Wolf and Burning Seas, bringing the whole show to a close, the audience stands in unison and they give Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood, along with the percussionists, a deserved standing ovation.
And why wouldn’t they? These guys are two of the most talented musicians around and they have written two of the best albums you can find. I’ve already tipped With Animals as album of the year, and after hearing that and Black Pudding live, it’s safe to say they’ll be tipped as one of the live acts you must go and see as well. It’s music of pure genius.