NME live review, December 2001
Mark Lanegan/Masters of Reality, London WC2 Astoria.
They move as a family, the better to repel their enemies.
Josh Homme has long talked of Queens Of The Stone Age as being surrounded by an extensive web of musicians and artists around LA and palm Desert. A tightly-knit, fiercely loyal brethren who'll ensure that once inducted, you'll never be short of allies - or a decent bassist - ever again.
On their winter manoeuvres around Europe, the organisation's ideals have been put into practice. Virtually all of the current Queens Of The Stone Age line-up are here, playing supporting roles to Chriss Goss (producer of 'Rated R' and intermittent leader of Masters of Reality since late-80's) and Mark Lanegan (sometime Queens vocalist).
If it wasn't for their presence, you can imagine Goss being a little, well, resentful of the Queen's recent success: after all, he's been cranking out very similar weighty, purposeful and tuneful music since they were kids gathered round a generator in the desert. If anything, though, Masters of Reality are more inclined to heavy blues-rock, with 'John Brown' a dead ringer for Led Zeppelin. And there's the odd cosmically-inclined lyric - though when Lanegan joins them for a searing 'High Noon Amsterdam', it's plain that goss shares the guilt-free partying agenda.
Lanegan, of course, grew out of excess a while back, as the brooding confessions of Field Songs attested.
But his great gift, whether indulging or not, has always been to write about extreme drug use without apology, glorification or self-pity. He remains a more convincingly surly outlaw than the gristly frauds on the alt.country circuit who fancy themselves as such.
The demise of Screaming Trees and his new ties with the Queens seem to have reawakened his desire to rock; given that he has perhaps the greatest rock'n'roll voice of his generation, a voice that conveys a terrible understanding of mortality with calmness and strength, that can only be a good thing.
By the end, Lanegan's pinned to his mic stand as the raging mantra of 'Gospel Plow' burns around him.
Rock's most fearless family couldn't have wished for a better recruit.
by John Mulvey.