Mark Lanegan/Duke Garwood
Edinburgh Liquid Rooms, December 4, 2017
Duke Garwood sounds like he should be from the southern states of America. As I comment to the soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds, I assume (having heard a fair bit of his music) that he’s from one of the southern states. Actually: he’s actually English. But to hell with geographical and bibliographical concerns – his swampy, slow solo blues with his gravelly vocals is rather fine. And it serves as an apt opener for a headline set by his sometime collaborator Mark Lanegan.
Mark Lanegan couldn’t really be from anywhere else than the greater Seattle area. Four decades into his career, much has been written about those he knew no longer with us. But let us dwell on the present. Lanegan opens with ‘Death’s Head Tattoo’ – the opening track from new album Gargoyle before going straight into the equally fine ‘Gravedigger’s Song’ from 2012’s Blues Funeral album. That, young uns, is how to get your gig off to a fine start.
In the spirit of his last few albums, it’s a bluesy grunge sound with hints of southern gothic – that design on the front cover of the new record evokes decaying churches, and whilst simplistic, it’s just so apt. While both Gargoyle and Phantom Home showed that he’d perhaps (re-)connected with the 80’s college rock of his youth, it’s telling that live he’s less 80s sounding than the album. That voice, of course, is gravelly, yet warm, and it’s clear why he comes across as survivor.
Not least on standout tracks like ‘Emperor’ and the utterly brilliant ‘Nocturne,’ the latter one of the best songs he’s ever but his vocals to. Sure I could draw comparisons to other artists, musically and in terms of longevity, to say nothing of reeling off the long list of those he’s collaborated with- but why bother? He’s doing just fine as he is.