The Irish Times, Tuesday, 26th November, 2003

MARK LANEGAN BAND The Village, Dublin
By Ed Power

Mark Lanegan is possibly the scariest man in rock. With his skeletal jawline and wild, pin-prick eyes he looks like a cross between a deranged preacher and a cadaver. Add the tatooed knuckes and voice that could strip tarmac and you've got a songwriter who would spook Marilyn Manson. Lanegan's music is closer to wilderness blues than gothic hokum, however. He first came to our attention as front man of Screaming Trees, the rootsy grunge band that made Nirvana and Pearl Jam sound bubbly. His solo output is in a similar vein: dark and visceral, with tinges of Americana folk and west coast psychedelia.

Taking the stage with a scowl that could probably frighten small animals to death, Lanegan was at his most inscrutable during this show. Perhaps its was some profound unhapiness that caused him to glower throughout. Or maybe he was frettng that he'd left the iron on at home. All you knew for certain was that he was more likely to spontaneously combust than to crack a smile.

Although ostensibly promoting his new album, Here Comes That Weird Chill, he drew liberally from his back catalogue, mixing unnerving bar ballads, seething grunge and towering psychedelic workouts, several of which seemed to go on longer than all three Lord of the Rings films.

Unusually for a songwriter, Lanegan rarely takes up an instrument, relying instead on those remarkabke sandpaper vocals. It is a voice to illuminate the most humdrum material, which is just as well, as stretches of the concert lapsed into meandering sludge metal of a sort only men with perms and PVC trousers would consider edgy. Forays into folk and blues as Lanegan's five-piece band stepped from his shadow and cranked out a hellish racket. They tended to over-egg it: the spectre of Spinal Tap's "jazz odyssey" hovered perilously close at times. So stormy was Lanegan's presence, though, that your giggles froze on your lips.

Quite what those who Lanegan solely as an occasional member of the metal supergroup Queens of the Stone Age thought of this brooding, occasionally indulgent performance is hard to tell. Some will have been inspired, others bored rigid. And a few may have had trouble sleeping afterwards.