Live Review: Mark Lanegan, Birmingham Institute

The brooding singer/songwriter comes to Birmingham on the release of his Imitations ​album and gruffly croons his way through an incredible back catalogue.

Mark Lanegan, accompanied by Duke Garwood and a stripped down band sets the stage for a solemn evening yet there's something so unique and profound about Lanegan's voice that leaves you mesmerised and wanting more.

After releasing his latest album, Imitations, filled with old-timey covers, Lanegan has again shown he's long since left his grunge roots behind. Here he croons through covers such as Frank Sinatra's Pretty Colours, and Lou Reed's Satellite of Love, much to the crowd's delight, but it's his own material that really shines. Stripped bare without a drummer, multi-instrumentalist and support act Duke Harwood and veteran guitarist Jeff Fielder lead the strings through half-acoustic versions of The Gravedigger's Song and Phantasmagoria Blues. Lanegan's trademark voice penetrates every part of the theatre. Mark Lanegan never tries anything above his range but nor does he need to - this is a singer who knows what he can do with his voice. With so many collaborations and a lifetime's back catalogue of of songs to call on, it always a delight to hear the next song. Soulsaver's Can't Catch The Train, was a beautiful rendition in this intimate setting, and Lanegan, clinging to the microphone like it's a long lost lover, releases the emotion effortlessly. Guitarist Jeff Fielder leads the finale with an incredible two-man version of Screaming Trees' Halo of Ashes. Lanegan takes a seat half way through, closes his eyes, listens and joins the rest of us in what's the end of a fine performance. Nothing much was said from the brooding frontman apart from a few sparse thank yous and an introduction of the band but that's what fans expect. Lanegan has stripped his songs bare with this line-up but he's never going to do that to himself.

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