Tour: 1998 Scraps at Midnight Tour

The 1998 Scraps at Midnight UK/European/US tour band was:
Mark Lanegan – Vocals
Mike Johnson – Guitar
Ben Shepherd – Bass
Marc Olsen – Guitar
Mark Boquist -Drums
Dave Krueger – Violin
The opening band was Mike Johnson, with the addition of Pete Krebs for the US dates

Please scroll down for fan reviews.

The Young and the Restless Radio Broadcast w/studio audience: this session was recorded live at Jupiter Studios in Seattle, sometime in early fall of 1998. It was broadcast on The Young & the Restless on Seattle’s KNDD radio.
11 October, 1998
Copenhagen, Denmark
12 October, 1998
Hamburg, Germany
13 October, 1998
Frankfurt, Germany
15 October, 1998
Glasgow, Scotland
16 October, 1998
London, UK
The Astoria
17 October, 1998
The Netherlands
Crossing Border Festival
21 October, 1998
Milan, Italy
Binario Zero
22 October, 1998
Barcelona, Spain
Gartage Club
23 October, 1998
San Sebastion, Spain
Cultural Club
24 October, 1998
Madrid, Spain
Sala Caracol
25 October, 1998
Valencia, Spain
27 October, 1998
Athens, Greece
Rodon Club
14 November, 1998
Berkeley, CA
Freight & Salvage Coffee House
14 November, 1998
San Francisco, CA
Noe Valley Mission
15 November, 1998
Los Angeles, CA
18 November, 1998
Eugene, OR
WOW Hall
19 November, 1998
Seattle, WA
The Showbox
20 November, 1998
Portland, OR
Berbati’s Pan
9 December, 1998
Seattle, WA
Key Arena
Deck The Hall Ball

11 October, 1998 – Copenhagen, Denmark – Loppen

review by Rickard

As soon I heard that Lanegan would come to a place within travelling distance, there was no hesitation of what to do. Me and my brother had been waiting for this for ages and now it was reality.

We came to the place where he was going to play as soon as they had opened and now it was nothing that could stop us from enjoy true happiness. After waiting for hours, Mike Johnson entered the stage to play some of his “wrist-slashing hits” and it sounded good, but who could really care at a day like this. His show was very “easy-going” and I liked it as backgoundmusic for a good beer.

Next up on stage was Lanegan and since I was standing closest to the stage I couldn´t help peeping at the stage set. Good songs ahead was all there was to say…

First song up was Hospital Roll Call and it was a perfect start-up song. Very quick you noticed the skill of the guitar player Marc Olsen since he played a solo on the first song. He was really awesome and he kept impressing me through the whole concert.

Second thing I noticed was that Mark sounded better than I expected live. I´ve heard him with the Trees and sometimes he sounded “old” but this day you couldn´t remember anything like that. It was all really great and he showed, at least me, why you listen to the same record year after year. This is better than heaven…

I don´t know if there´s any use of me-telling-you how great all the songs sounded, but I do have to express my warm feeling towards the Live-version of Because Of This. It really is a Rock ´n Roll song and hearing it on record will never be the same. I think I will miss that song for the rest of my life.

I think I will miss that concert too…..

12 October, 1998 – Hamburg, Germany – Logo

review by Dice

My brother and I arrived to the show actually quite late at about 7:10. Missed the opening bands( i guess at this venue they have the opening bands play before the set time). Soon Mark came on stage. Wearing a flannel and blue jeans he looked especially tired tonight. The set list was as follows:
Ugly Sunday
River Rise
House A Home
Last One In The World
Winding Sheet
Because Of This
(a minor break, then just mark and the guitarist came out played) KINGDOM OF RAIN!!!! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing

Most amazing show I have ever seen.

15 October, 1998 – Glasgow, Scotland – G2


ticket stub and set list from Alastair



16 October, 1998 – London, England – the Astoria

with Mike Johnson

please scroll for all the reviews for this one!

review by Ann ticket stub and set list from Ann included at the bottom of this page

I didn’t think I’d be able to see any of his solo shows, but when I got this opportunity I couldn’t resist. After all, how often do we see Mark perform his solo material? Right. So Friday night I thus found myself in the queue ouside the London Astoria in the light drizzle. While the place wasn’t filled up (the upper area was empty) I’m surprised so many people were actually there, considering he’s not the most known singer around. (Asking about the ‘Stay’ single at Virgin’s earlier that day the response was ‘Huh? Who’s that?’ And they didn’t have it either.)

The Astoria was a nice place though, allowing you to get right up to the stage. Not a security man in sight. (And with that great crowd, who’d  need one anyway? 😉

Accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, Mike Johnson opened the show with a collection of his songs (including “Where Am I?”, “I Don’t Love You” and “Leaving Greensleeves”). I’ve never heard him live before, but I have to say he sounded great, much better than I remember from what I’ve heard on record. The crowd, in awe and appreciatively silent during the songs, loved him.

After a somewhat extended wait, Mark Lanegan and his band (Mike Johnson – guitar, Ben Shepherd – bass, Marc Olsen – guitar, Mark Bouquist – drums) came on stage. Looking fine and sounding even better, Mark launched into ‘Ugly Sunday’ (not going strictly by the written setlist). While the songs on the albums are generally on the softer side, performed live they were definitely rockier. ‘Hotel’, for example, was performed much faster than the album version. At Astoria, these songs really rocked! ‘The Winding Sheet’, ‘Borracho’ and ‘Because of This’ sounded almost menacing at times!

The band did a great job as well, giving the songs an extra dimension. Extra applauds to Ben Shepard, who really anchored the songs and emphazising bass lines I’ve hardly noticed before, especially so in ‘Because of This’ where he kept a steady pounding beat to the jam of Johnson and Olsen. The only drawback was that at times Mark’s voice was nearly drowned out by the music.

As customary he hardly spoke, apart from the occasional ‘Thank you’ and introducing the band members. Nevertheless, as far as was possibly to see in the rather dim light (at one point he asked the tech to turn the spotlights down) he seemed to be enjoying himself. Not only did he make a stunning performance, he gave TWO encores – even adding an extra song to the 14-song set! The crowd couldn’t get enough of him!


Ugly Sunday
The River Rise
House A Home
Last One In The World
Bell Black Ocean ('Lullabye')
The Winding Sheet
Encore 1:
Hospital Roll Call ('16')
Because Of This

Encore 2:
Sworn And Broken

review by David

Arriving just 10 minutes before the band drifted onstage, I annoyingly missed Mike Johnson’s support slot, what were they doing on so early? This wasn’t how I had dreamt it, and I’ve dreamt about this moment for years, but it was always late night in some small dark smoke-filled club. The Astoria’s too big. Or so I thought.

From the opening lines of Ugly Sunday, I realized that this was it. This was my dream. The emotion and feeling in Mark’s voice makes even large venues seem intimate, like he’s singing just for you. By the third song, River Rise, that was it, overcome with emotion, tears filled my eyes. Songs that I never thought I’d hear filled the room with such an emotional intensity that the crowd looked on in appreciative awe.

Mark sounded amazing, and in his customary pose – clutching on to the mic, nodding his head to the music, he seemed genuinely pleased with the way it sounded. He even afforded a smile at some of Mike Johnson’s axe posturing during The Winding Sheet. Backed with the full band, the songs sounded less sparse than the studio recordings. The final three songs, Mockingbirds, The Winding Sheet and Borracho, worked their way towards a menacing crescendo. Leaving the crowd wanting more.

Returning to the darkened stage for two encores, including an equally menacing Because Of This before finishing with resounding versions of Sworn & Broken and Carnival. A quick thank you and he was gone. “Thought I saw you in a dream”. Oh, yes indeed.

Set list:

Ugly Sunday
River Rise
House a Home
Last One in the World
Black Bell Ocean
The Winding Sheet
Encore 1
Hospital Roll Call
Because of This

Encore 2
Sworn & Broken

review by Nila

Ok so, it’s October 16, another hard day at work and by the time I’m ready to head for the Astoria it’s beginning to rain lightly. Which seems sort of perfect really.

I get there at about 6.10 p.m., really early but it means I manage to get right to the front of the queue and hide out of the rain. It’s quite chilly and I’m getting to the ‘I don’t wanna wait any longer’ stage. I never really thought I’d see this, see Mark Lanegan live, and the longer the wait the slower the time goes and the more I begin to believe something’s going to go wrong.

But that’s not what happens at all.

At about 6.50 the Astoria enters the Twilight Zone and I still swear it was Mark and Mike I saw marching in the door. I remember thinking ‘only 40 minutes to go, wonder what’s going on inside’ and answering myself ‘not much, cos they’re here’. Both big guys, really tall and taking giant steps in out of the rain. My heart nearly stopped when I saw them. I wanted to pinch myself and check I hadn’t fallen asleep and started dreaming!

Finally the doors open awhile later and we all pile in. The Astoria’s pretty full but I get a great spot on the raised bit so I can see everything and everyone.

One beer and several cigs later and Mike comes out, just him and his guitar, and plays the most beautiful set. He played this song, I think it’s called ‘Separation’ which was absolutely heartbreaking. It’s one of the saddest, truest, most painful songs I’ve ever heard.

Mike plays a few more songs and doesn’t really say much in between beyond ‘thanks’ which is fine. His voice is amazingly deep, I mean welling-up-from-his-boots deep. I’ve never heard anything like it before.

And then, after lot of messing around with instruments onstage and with my heart in my mouth, Mark comes out. God it’s actually happening, I think to myself. I still can’t quite believe it.

Ugly Sunday gets things off to a great start. Mark’s voice justs soars over the instruments with no effort whatsoever.

I didn’t write down any order of what was played but ‘Hotel’, which has to be one of my most favourite songs ever, was just astonishing. It’s an intense song anyway but live it’s something else again. I still get shivers just thinking about it.

Carnival and Winding Sheet are beautiful. I think Mark almost smiles when he’s singing Carnival, maybe thinking about the irony of the words, who knows? Borracho is played with real bite – Mike looks as if he’s attacking his guitar not playing it and Mark bellows out the words like he really means them.

And after awhile, they all troop off. And to much shouting and yelling troop back on again…..and off again awhile later….and on again…… I’d just like to say guys, that if you thought you’d get away with only one encore, well, you weren’t getting off that easily!!

The only thing that spoiled this beautiful moment were the idiots yelling for Trees songs (not that Trees songs aren’t great but it isn’t every day that Mark plays solo…). Finally Mark relents, and plays a beautiful rendition of Sworn and Broken.

Because of This comes up and very nearly takes my ears off. It’s way better live than on record (and that’s saying something) but it helps that Mark has such great people backing him up. Everyone plays really well together and there’s a fair amount of on-stage chat amongst them. Mark says a few thank you’s and one really odd comment, to the effect of ‘I feel like a dirty old man standing up here’. He sure didn’t look lke one.

I know this gets discussed forever but he really did look good. Ok so it was a little dark and stuff but he wasn’t as thin as before when I saw the Trees in ’96 and brown hair suits him.

Finally they all go off and this time it’s really over. I only heard good comments after the show which is good for me because I always get really annoyed when people say ‘he didn’t get into the show’. Mark gave his heart and soul out there and just because he stands still doesn’t mean he’s not into it. Those songs are so special that they need singing and if you’re out of breath from flinging yourself around it ain’t gonna happen!! (sorry, rant over).

I go home happy and stone deaf, nearly getting run over by a cab in the process cos I didn’t hear it coming and I wasn’t really concentrating.

The only wish I have is that Mark comes back over.


21 October, 1998 – Milan, Italy – Binario Zero, with Mike Johnson

review by Guido

I am on the freeway driving to Milano for this long awaited show, although it’s not exactly the perfect night to travel: a severe flu+high fewer is killing me, my friend Marco had surgery earlier in the morning, Marghe was into a car crash the day before… we all look like shit, but present!. The show is way sold out, I hear accents from all over the country (cool!), and I wonder if those american guys sleeping in the double decker bus parked in front of the Binario Zero club realize all this: after all, the last time Mark was here was 1993…
Around 10:30 p.m. Mike Johnson walks into the stage for the awaited acoustic set, his “usual” red shirt on+cig. puffing. He must have had pizza for dinner, since he wrote the song list… on a pizza shaped cardboard box!. 8 songs scheduled, he introduces himself with “… this is called Separation” and the music begins. He chooses to play 3 songs from his 1994 debut LP “Where am I”, 2 from “Year of Mondays”, as he presents 3 brand new and unknown songs – since “Ifeelalright” hasn’t reached italian stores yet: at first I didn’t recognize the cover version of The Saints “Minor aversion” – a real treat!. There’s an intimate, melanchonic and doom mood through the show – like a sort of Nick Drake of the 90’s: he seems kinda “tired” and plays slow – his voice is even on lower tones than on CD. His fans tribute him warm applauses+salutes at the end, after an excellent version of “Overland sung by all the front row. What else to say… too bad he didn’t play “Hold the reins” or “One liner” – ….I had no replies but the look in your eyes… Set list: Separation, Where am I?, Turn around, A minor aversion, I don’t love you, Save today, Left in the dark, Overland. Thanks Mike, hope you’ll miss italian pizza…
Time for the big show to start. All the bets/gamblings about what the hell they’re gonna play first get settled with the timeless “Ugly Sunday”. Vivid excitement through the whole club, I’d deadly love to sing together with all the others but am completely hoarse, I can only clap hands. Mark stands in center as usual, holding the mike still, in his trademark position, and despite the new haircut he scores, well… it shows that he came a looooong way through these years. The line-up includes the “famous” Ben Shepherd on bass, Mike J. (obviously) on lead guitar, Marc Olsen on second guitar, and Mark Boquist on drums. Beeing honest any tiny possible technical imperfections or eventual out of key chord of this brand new ensemble is immediately put behind… these guys know how to rock and besides, as a longtime devoted superfan I am totally drowned into the magic of the voice and songs of Mr. Mark. After “Pendulum” the crowd yells loud “House a home!!!!”, but they’d to wait until the encores for hearing it. The atmosphere and the singing too gets better and better the more the show goes on, and even Mark, after a deep applauses following an intense version of “The river rise” looks down to the shouting people and sincerely goes “Oh…..I am rrrreally shocked!!!”. That will be the only phrase pronunced through the whole night in between songs, besides a polite “Goodnight”, but he must have smelled the true warmth downstairs. That’s why, after the second part of the show, he walks on stage for the third time carry a special present in the encores: an intense and unpredictable version of “Sworn and broken”, so we all almost begin to cry like nerdy teenagers. The concert of the year without any doubt, difficult to choose the peaks of the show: perhaps “Stay”and “The winding sheet”, I still have goose flesh thinking about it… Well this is the set list: ugly sunday, pendulum, the river rise, last one in the world, hotel, bell black ocean, stay, mockinbirds, the winding sheet, hospital roll call, because of this, house a home, sworn and broken. Dont know why but driving back I felt like healed, I had a “different” temperature… thanks Mark, take care of yourself.

review by Michele

So it’s 10:30 pm when Mark Lanegan finally comes out on the stage of the Binario Zero on a cold October night in Milano, Italy. Preceded by a short acoustic set by M.Johnson, Mark starts quietly with four pieces from the first two albums, his voice does not come out loud from the begininng. But it’s with the fifth piece, the first one from “Scraps” that the atmosphere starts to warm up. Not that the public was unfamiliar with the repertorie: almost everyone is there specifically for him, even if the first impression could lead to some other judgement. It is after half an hour that his voice reaches the right volume and temperature; we are in the middle of the set, all the musicians have already smoked a couple of cigarettes, and Mark is surrounded by his familiar cloud of smoke, backlighted by a purple spotlight. “Hotel”, “Bell Black Ocean”, “Last one in the world”, “Stay” and a great “Because Of This”. A brief pause, and the band is back with “Hospital roll call”. “16”… the second part is 100% good and in gear: four songs, very powerful, full and solid sound and voice. Another pause and a couple more of songs. It’s 12 pm and the show is about to end: tomorrow is a working day, but this Wednesday has been longer than usual. Thank you, Mark, see you in another few years.

24 October, 1998 – Madrid, Spain – Sala Caracol

review by Juan Francisco Hernandez Velez, autographs at bottom of review

Mike Johnson opened the show (10 min. late) alone with his acoustic guitar and played for about 35 minutes ( The only thing he said was ‘Hello, I’m Mike Johnson and I’m gonna play some songs’). People liked him; I found it really beautiful. His cracked voice made my jaw drop more than once. I haven’t got any of his records, but I’m thinking seriously about purchasing them.

Mark, Ben and co. opened (Almost 1hr. late!) with ‘The River Rise’ (great), and played almost every song on ‘Scraps at Midnight’ (Every single one except ‘ Waiting on a Train’, ‘Day and Night’ and ‘Praying Ground’ ). And it sounded a little heavier and faster than the Cd. I loved ‘Bell Black Ocean’ and ‘Last One in the World’, but the best was ‘Because of This’, in a long long version that drove the crowd nuts.

They also played some tracks from ‘The Winding Sheet’ and ‘Whiskey…’. I can’t remember them all, but the most celebrated were ‘Carnival’ and ‘Borracho’.

The show ended with ‘Sworn and Broken’, and the band leaved us begging for more. Mark’s voice was amazing (I’ve never seen anybody sing like that, he breaks his fangs in every song). He didn’t move much, but he doesn’t need that, he’s a great frontman anyway. Ben (Shepherd) looked kinda stoned during the show, but he did a good job (As when he was with Soundgarden). Mike Johnson and the other Guitar Player (Sorry! Don’t know him) were splendid too. And so did the drummer. Mark’s been intelligent choosing these people!

27 October, 1998 – Athens, Greece – Rodon Club with Mike Johnson

review by Panos

The show was absolutely fantastic !!! Words cannot describe the feeling of that night…

One of the best shows i ‘ve ever been to and by far the best within the last 5 years or so… Mark was great, the band performed close to perfection and the songs sounded even better than the LPs…A bit more electric and slightly faster than the studio versions (Pendulum, Hospital Roll Call) U n b e l i e v a b l e versions of The Winding Sheet, Borracho and Because of This !!!!!!!!!!!

What i can tell you is that Mark seemed pretty calm and pleased with the whole thing, and the crowd (about 1,500-2,000 in a dim lit reformed cinema) was enthusiastic even to songs that i suspect were new to them…This is not generally the rule for the greek audience but as it seems the guy is a legend around here, even if that is so mostly thanks to the Trees era…

14 November, 1998 – SanFransico, CA – Noe Valley Mission with Mike Johnson and Pete Krebs

review by Alex

When we first arrived, we were surprised to find that the venue was a church. We went upstairs to check out the place, then back down to get some drinks. We were seated in chairs; no standing up for this concert. The place was moderately filled when Peter Krebs first came out. He had on some thick glasses and a beanie, and these interesting leather pants (which someone commented on during the show). His songs were nice, and his singing was pretty good. Just him and an electric guitar, no distortion, of course.

Pete was in good spirits the entire set, talking to the crowd at times. One thing he commented on was the fact that he was playing in a church, and that he felt guilty for doing it. One thing I noticed was that his guitar playing was very cool, and the man was obviously very talented. After a break of 5 minutes after his set was over, Mike Johnson came out, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. He seemed very somber and serious, not really saying much. His influence and co-writing with Mark Lanegan were quite evident in his songs. In fact, his voice was even somewhat similar to Lanegan’s; very deep. Unfortunately, after four or five songs, one of his guitar strings broke. He said, “Fuck…” and walked offstage, seemingly pissed off, and he didn’t come back to finish his set.

Ten to fifteen minutes later, Mark Lanegan’s set started. The band came out, and Mike Johnson was welcomed back. Mark walked out abruptly and the band went directly into the first song, Ugly Sunday. It was beautiful hearing Mark’s voice singing his songs. I realized just exactly what I was witnessing, and how lucky I was.

Early in the set, he made the comment, “I feel like I’m at my 3rd grade piano recital.” Mostly, his talk was limited to “Thank you.” While singing, he would have one hand on the body of the microphone stand, and the other around the mic itself. Someone would periodically come out and trade Mike Johnson for an acoustic guitar; this way, the songs were very close to the recorded versions. The River Rise was beautiful. Most of the songs were true to the recorded versions, but The Winding Sheet was especially intense, and one of the most powerful songs of the evening. Afterwards, Mark said, “Fucking cigarettes are killing me.”

I noticed the bass player, Ben Shepherd from Soundgarden, was acting pretty strangely throughout the set. I think he didn’t even have a strap, as he kept holding the bass in the weirdest positions. Sometimes it didn’t even look like he was playing. Other times, he would stand with his back to the crowd, facing the drummer instead. He moved from one side of the stage to the other.

Borracho was beautiful, and being one of my favorite songs of all time, I was getting chills all over and felt tears coming to my eyes as the song drew to a close, as the chords were pounded out and the tempo increased. Mark sang the ending so intensely; “One whiskey for every ghost….” In the song, and also throughout the show, whenever Mike Johnson would go off on his little guitar solos, Mark would look over and smile to himself. The band left the stage and was cheered back on for an encore, starting with Hospital Roll Call. The song was a little quicker and more upbeat than the album, but it was great. They ended the first encore with a cool version of Because of This that went on forever. The band was cheered back on for a second encore, and to my surprise, I heard the bass line to the traditional folk song Where Did You Sleep Last Night? It was great to hear this song, and I’m sure it must have been something for Mark, with memories of Kurt (he always said that he could never top Kurt Cobain’s version of the song, even though he did it before him). Of course, it was totally rocked up, with lots of feedback. Then they played a song from the Screaming Trees album “Dust,” which was another surprise. I wasn’t expecting to hear any Screaming Trees material. Towards the end, especially during the encores, a couple of women were dancing in the middle aisle, and needless to say, it looked incredibly out of place in a church full of people sitting down, but it sort of defined the mood. Looking around, everyone was totally mesmerized by the music.

The band closed with a song that I didn’t know, in fact, the only song I didn’t recognize from the night, as I kept a running setlist. It may have been another cover though, since the other two songs in the second encore were covers. I only managed to take about 5 photos, because each time a photo was taken, the entire room would light up and blind everyone. I was scared to death each time I took one! But I tried to capture some moments. For instance, Mark sang very intensely with his eyes closed, and during instrumental parts, he would take his face away from the mic and have this look on his face that was absolutely amazing. It almost looked like he was in pain, or experiencing something only known to him. After the last song, Mark told the crowd there wouldbe no more encores. There were actually some older, middle-aged people in the audience, even some elderly, and afterwards, I saw some of them with their hands to their ears, trying to unplug them since they were probably muffled after the encores, which were considerably more rocked up than the set. It made me smile. All in all, an amazing night that I will never forget.

Ugly Sunday
The River Rise
Last One In the World
Bell Black Ocean
House a Home
The Winding Sheet
Encore #1:
Hospital Roll Call
Because of This

Encore #2:
Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (Lead Belly)
Sworn and Broken (Screaming Trees)
(unknown song)[EDIT*this song was ‘Slide Machine’]

15 November, 1998 – Los Angeles, CA – Troubador with Mike Johnson and Pete Krebs

review by Roy Jurgens

I am a jaded Los Angeleno – I’ve seen the best roll through town and often given the obligatory Bronx cheer. But what I witnessed at the Troubadour Sunday nite was sheer heaven. Lanegan growled, whispered, and howled through one sonic escapade after another. The band left me open-mouthed, never overplaying, never underplaying, just a swirling concerto around Lanegan’s rasp. Marc Olsen torchered rich tones from his guitar while Mike Johnson provided minimalist Lou Reed jangle. What else can you say about Ben Shepherd other than the fact that he was Ben Shepherd…solid as a rock. Marc Boquist’s drumming reminded me of John Densmore’s theatrical style, not just keeping time, but ebbing and flowing with the mood of each piece. Mark just stood there – like a roaring Irishman, as if he were atop Mt. Ranier.

I am just kicking myself for not bringing more people to this show.

I own all three of Lanegan’s solo works and am a huge fan of (and influenced by) his work – but never did I expect to be blown away as I was. Come back soon…real soon.

18 November, 1998 – Eugene OR – WOW Hall with Mike Johson and Pete Krebs

reviews for all 3 NW shows by Jen

Nov. 18, WOW Hall, Eugene, OR—

“I’m usually more talkative than this, but… I just don’t feel like it tonight,” apologized opener Pete Krebs partway into his solo set. I had seen him perform at this year’s Bumbershoot festival in Seattle and had enjoyed him, but I thought he sounded much better at these shows. There seemed to be more heart and energy in the songs this time around. I was thrilled to hear him play my two favorites that I remembered from the Bumbershoot show, though I still don’t even know their names. It was a pleasant change to see a show where I actually wanted to hear the opening acts, rather than just enduring them and looking at my watch while waiting for the main event. I could have listened to either of the openers on this tour perform for hours, especially ex-Dinosaur Jr. member Mike Johnson.

Mike Johnson was uncharacteristically dressed down, no suit jacket or tie, undershirt visible at his unbuttoned collar. He played guitar and sang, accompanied by Dave Krueger on violin. This was my first time to see Mike play live and I quickly fell in love with his dark offerings and the deep tones of his voice. Dave’s accompaniment added sweetness and melancholy to the melodies and the effect was mesmerizing. If misery loves company, these guys should be the house band. This tour made me a fan and I quickly set about acquiring his CD’s for my collection.

WOW Hall is a community center, a small wooden-floored auditorium. The small crowd there, which grew as the night progressed, remained low key, many audience members remaining seated on the floor or in the small back risers of seats throughout the set. No one crowded to the front of the stage, until our group took a direct stand there during the encore. The acoustics were good and the atmosphere comfortable, but audience energy and involvement seemed lacking. This was certainly no fault of the bands’. Granted, this is music that benefits from thoughtful listening, but it was not without its climactic, full-rocking moments during Mark Lanegan and company’s headlining set.

Mark was accompanied on this tour by Mike Johnson and Marc Olsen on guitars, Ben Shepherd on bass, and Mark Boquist on drums, and they didn’t sound at all like a band simply put together to back Mr. Lanegan up on his songs, they sounded like a unit, like they had been playing together like-mindedly for years. Of course, we were seeing the end of the tour, and I don’t know that this was true earlier on, say, at the European shows, but for us, they were seamless. The songs were arranged in such a way that the mood went from the brooding impending doom of Ugly Sunday into the quiet introspection of such songs as River Rise, Last One in the World, and Bell Black Ocean (listed as Lullabye), and built to a high catharsis in Winding Sheet and Borracho that set the band rocking hard and getting into it both physically and emotionally as they swept us up into those beautiful expressions of pain finding joy in its release. The rocking mood carried over into the encore with the brooding surf/country stylings of Hospital Roll Call (listed as “16”) [my husband describes this music as “the Ventures in Nashville on heroin”].

Before playing Carnival the band paused and Mark Lanegan squinted across the hall. “Is Dave still here?” He was. “Well, get your fiddle, boy!” So he joined them onstage to play Carnival much to our delight. From then on Dave would become a regular participant in Mark’s set, playing not only on Carnival, but also on House a Home. Because of This brought the energy to a zenith that left us breathless, but wanting more. Alas, there was no more. The final encore outlined on the setlist was not played. Ben remarked to us after the show that he hates playing Sworn and Broken because it’s a Screaming Trees song and he believes it should only be performed by them. Still, it would have been nice to hear the other two entries, but alas, we never would. That final encore was not performed at any of these last three shows.

Nov. 19, Showbox, Seattle, WA—

“I’m not really from Seattle, I’m from Portland,” Pete Krebs, self-proclaimed “country grunge” player introduced himself this night. He was his more talkative self, declaring one song which drew great audience response to be a “pop song” and setting up the “country part of the show”. I have no setlists from his performances and don’t yet have his albums, so I don’t know any of the song titles, but his show seemed to be basically, if not entirely, the same each night, and by the end of these shows several had become favorites that I looked forward to and now miss hearing.

Mike Johnson was dressed in his typical dark, stylish suit and tie with white shirt, a combination that nicely sets off his close-cropped blonde hair. As he once remarked in a 120 Minutes interview, “Looking good is its own reward,” and look good he did! His deadpan sarcastic humor set up certain songs. “This one’s a real toe tapper,” or “This next one’s a dance number, so I want to see all of you busting some serious moves.” He would then go into a particularly depressing offering. Though Mark Lanegan’s touring is over for now, Mike Johnson continues to play shows, so if you get a chance to see him, you should.

For Mark Lanegan and band, this was the most energetic show of the three, and the full house at the Showbox, an eclectic group to say the least, appreciated that energy, becoming much more involved and lively than their counterparts the previous night. Our group took up its previous position, right at the stage in front of Ben Shepherd, our elbows on the backs of the monitors where every vibration went right through us, body and soul, and when an impassioned Ben began stamping his feet it was like shockwaves. What might have looked to those further back in the audience during the middle of the set like strange, balletic dance moves by Ben were actually the result of his trying, without interrupting his playing, to free himself of a cord that had looped itself over the toe of his boot, but the band’s energy did find much physical expression later on, as that familiar climax built. Marc Olsen was playing his solos right over our heads with abandon and Mike Johnson’s frenzy was a surprising contrast to his own sedate, seated work earlier. It was a strange and wonderful sight indeed to see Ben energetically jamming with a violinist and Carnival reached a fever pitch at this show. Again, the show ended with a rousing rendition of Because of This.

Nov. 20, Berbati’s Pan, Portland, OR—

This small bar attached to a Greek restaurant featured a semicircular stage about the size of my living room, with a carpet in some sort of foliage pattern you might expect to see in a parlor. There were strings of Christmas lights draped along the ceiling and a large, light-up snowman on the back of the stage. (As Mark Lanegan seems particularly fond of singing in the dark, he asked that even these festive lights be turned off for his set). “It’s so nice to be playing the Microsoft Christmas party,” Pete Krebs joked. “Mike Johnson is up next, and then it will be the Mark Lanegan Orchestra.”

Mike, in a suit sans tie, delivered his wonderfully engrossing set, toward the end of which the emcee handed him a seriously over-filled glass of whiskey, which splashed all over the stage and his setlist as he took it. This did not deter me in the least from wanting that setlist and I was happy to acquire it. To me, the whiskey stains add character and remind me of the mood of the music, which tends to make me want to wallow in a glass of whiskey anyway. Though the setlist lists Eclipse as the last number, it was replaced with Disease, listed but not played earlier, which he dedicated to Pete Krebs and said he hadn’t played in probably eight or ten years. Our group was in its customary place, our hands resting on the carpet, so close to the musicians I worried at times if we would be stepped on by a wild Ben or have Dave’s bow poke us in the eye.

The emotional energy of Mark’s band ran high and the playing rivaled that at the Showbox the night before, but the set was shortened. Carnival was dropped in addition to the second encore listing, a disappointment. Because of This left me feeling anguished because I knew this was likely the end, which it proved to be, not only of the show, but of the tour, and the wonderful experiences I had had at these shows with my dear friends.

In closing, I want to thank the bands not only for the wonderful music they gave us and the skill and emotion with which they presented it, but for befriending our little group. We got to meet all the musicians and talk to them, some at length, and that added a great deal of pleasure and excitement to our experiences. I would particularly like to thank Ben Shepherd and Mark Boquist for making us feel more like friends than fans and for going out of their way to make sure we had an enjoyable time.

19 November, 1998 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox with Mike Johnson and Pete Krebs

review by Erik von Gohren

This show opened with Pete Krebs playing a solo acoustic set of “Country grunge” (as he put it), and was followed by a short but jaunting Mike Johnson set which only included he and a violinist. Patiently the fans waited until the band, which accompanied Lanegan, took the stage. Marc Olson and Mike Johnson began blazing their guitar strings in an opening, which began a most memorable night. Finally Mark came out and went right into the vocals of the opening song “Ugly Sunday”. His voice was perfect as his baritone vocals carried through the walls of the Showbox. The soundboard mix was faultless, Lanegan’s voice could be heard distinctly, but did not completely override Johnson’s rhythm or Olson’s thundering solos. The next song “Pendulum” began and the crowd began to get lively. Lanegan was again on top of his game with his deep echoing voice ringing the ears of all the people engaged in a precious moment of musical talent. As the night went on, the vocals remained in perfect synch with the drums, guitar, and sometimes an accompanying violin. As the band got midway through the show, Olson began to pick up his tempo and started to lengthen his talented musical performance. By this time “House a Home” was in full tilt and everyone on stage was at an unstoppable pace. As the set drew closer to an end, Mark pulled out some old stuff (Mockingbirds, Winding Sheet) to keep the long lasting die hards at bay. After another song the band left the stage. As most people know, those who have seen the Trees or Lanegan in other occasions are blessed if he decides to come out for an encore. Patiently the fans waited, hoping for just a few more songs before the night ended. Within minutes, the sound started to ring again with only on word “Sixteen…” The roar of the crowed was subdued by Mike Johnson’s stead strum of tempo, and Olson’s impeccable strive for electric paragon. “Carnival” came next and the house did not contain a foot that was grounded. The crowd was so vocal, sometimes it seemed to drown out the man in front, but as their voices began to rise, so did Lanegan’s. The final song was the most unbelievable event this reviewer has ever seen during a concert. Olson began “Because of this” in a fevered pace. When Lanegan chimed in, his voice was so loud and intense that our ears started to ring. Midway through the song, Olson broke out into the best solo this club has ever heard. For awhile, Lanegan himself had to watch, as Olson played like a man possessed. Lanegan began the final refrain of the song with a quick but noticeable respected smile to Olson, who was dripping with sweat after his five-minute stint of harmonious excellence. The show ended and the fans gave an emphatic applause for the band. The show was something I will never forget. The sounds that rang throughout the club still haunt me today. We have been fortunate lately in the Northwest to have many great bands. A lot of these groups are very well known world wide, but what many do not understand, is that Mark Lanegan is the Soul Of Seattle.

(the following review was sent in letter form, and is reprinted with permission)

by Susan

He’s amazing, OK. Please don’t ask me for a complete set list, cuz I can’t do it, I was too excited. I’m sure you’ve got your buddies who can give you the set list in proper order, but I’m telling you my dearest, I was all a twitter over the whole experience.

Mr. Lanegan is one intense young man. He had his eyes closed most the time, but I’m telling you, when he would open them and take a look around, he had that crowd in his little hands. What a cool, cool guy. All right. I’m in love, OK?

So I’m rambling because I’m working on not much sleep and I’m still hyped up from what I saw last night.

Never having been to the Showbox, my mood was set very early by watching all the folks, looking around the venue, checking out little nooks and crannies, helping people up who seemed to keep on stumbling down the stairs I was standing on, talking to folks, etc. My concert going companion, M.R., totally got into the guy. He would not take his eyes off the guy. I think he would have had a better time if he had not been out the night before until 2 a.m. and then had to get up this morning at 4:30 to do a live show, but that is HIS fault. M.R. and Mark Lanegan are well-suited to each other, both being brooding, dark, substance abusing kind of dark brooding guys.
The River Rise (amazing)
Borracho (totally fucking amazing)
House a Home
Carnival (can I say amazing again?)
Last One in the World
El Sol (oh my God, I think, I’m not sure anymore!)
Hospital Roll Call (encore)
Because of This (encore, blow me away baby)
Black Bell Ocean
Ugly Sunday
The Winding Sheet

I may have missed or added a couple, but damn it, I’m half asleep! I was a huge fan before the show, but since the show I cannot go a day without playing some Lanegan. Not a day, I tell you!

21 November, 1998 – Portland, OR – Berbati’s Pan with Mike Johnson and Pete Krebs

review by Karen

it was a rainy night in Portland…that’s very true, but seriously, this was such an incredible show! unfortunately (well okay, fortunately) i missed Pete Krebs since i was talking to Mark through his whole set! afterall, i was a Lanegan virgin, having never met him before like so many saplings before me. Mike Johnson was amazing, all dressed up in his usual suit and smiling a lot. his music was certainly food for thought, to say the least. dark lyrics in a dark club mixed with jokes between songs?! i was told he would crack a few jokes on stage but i had to see it to believe it! he really impressed me. when Mark & band came out a funny thing happened. for the first time in my life i felt compelled to watch OTHER members of the band besides Mark! they were all having so much fun, it was so cool. Teresa, Debbi & Jen were so right when they said that ALL band members were incredible. nothing less than a perfect mix of talent, all together at the same time. beautiful. *sniff*. it was simply mesmerizing. talk about ‘standing around being hypnotized’. Ben & Marc were a lot of fun to watch. Lanegan delivered a great show as usual. he sounded and looked wonderful. and he also told me that when he sees saplings at his shows he feels like his family is there…awww.

9 December, 1998 – Seattle, WA – Key Arena WKNDD’s Deck The Hall Ball – acoustic runway

review by Neil

I originally didn’t plan on going to this show. It was one of those radio station things with lots of bands I don’t care about playing to a huge crowd of mostly teenagers, and the tickets were expensive (nearly $40, including service charges). But I couldn’t stand the thought of missing a Lanegan acoustic performance, so I broke down and bought a ticket. Mark’s was the second of three “acoustic stage” performances sandwiched in between the main stage acts. The acoustic stage was really just a narrow strip at the front of the main stage, in front of a curtain. Mark stood at the back, up against the curtain. Mike Johnson, Ben Shepherd, and Dave Krueger sat in front of him. They only played four songs. The first and the last of these must have been new ones; I had never heard them before. The other two were Stay and Hotel. I don’t remember much about the new songs, except that they were really beautiful; I thought that they were even more impressive than the ones I knew. Mark sounded better than ever, and because he didn’t have to compete with a loud band, his vocals really stood out. It was cool to hear his voice coming out of the huge speakers and echoing through the arena. Most of the crowd had come to see the likes of Hole and Garbage and didn’t really care about the acoustic stuff, but a lot of people watched — and they didn’t yell and throw stuff like they did at Ken Stringfellow. So as strange as the idea sounded, it actually went quite well, and it was definitely worth the $40.