London 06 Review – This is London

This is London
4/5 Stars
A bark and a growl
By David Smyth, Evening Standard 23.08.06

For a man with seemingly the charm and outgoing nature of a boulder, Mark Lanegan is very popular. Since leaving Seattle grunge pioneers the Screaming Trees, the 41-year-old has been seen glowering and impassive on stage with rockers Queens of the Stone Age, and recently picked up a Mercury nomination for his dark duets with impish ingenue Isobel Campbell.

Now he’s touring with fellow early-Nineties survivor Greg Dulli, also 41, whose Afghan Whigs were cult favourites while Nirvana were selling all the records. Here Lanegan simply popped up three times – his mountainous growl making Dulli’s bark sound like a puppy’s – closed his eyes, nodded occasionally, and left like a ghost at the party.

Dulli, in contrast, seems to be having a ball with his current band. Now somewhat portly after years of heroin addiction, he bounded from guitar to keyboards, racing from song to song with few pauses for breath.

Ever fond of the quirky cover, he threw in songs by the Clash, Leadbelly and Primal Scream and made an epic groove out of Martina Topley Bird’s Too Tough to Die. Standout original track Forty Dollars was even bold enough to steal lines from two different Beatles songs.

At the end of a fast-moving two-hour set Lanegan vanished quickly, but after two encores, Dulli was still shouting: “One more!” The crowd could only agree.

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