The rest of the Soulsavers, looking pretty cool amongst the suits and the smoke, have been playing the opening track for a minute or so, but their ‘guest’ vocalist, Mark Lanegan, takes his time emerging. Then into the midst of the sleazy chords he struts, suited up and wearing a mean expression on that character-rich face, to grab the mic centre stage. The man must wake up every morning and spend half an hour soaking his vocal chords in bourbon and gravel; such is the smoky coarseness of his singing. It sits perfectly on Soulsavers’ music. New album ‘Broken’ has a tendency towards wide, anthemic soundscapes, but played live these songs are more elemental, dirtier somehow. The tenderness of ‘Some Misunderstanding’ still shines through though, two superb gospel singers lacing Lanegan’s whisky-sour burr with an almost tangible sweetness.
There are moments of raw, fiery rock ‘n roll, but the moments of quiet beauty are most memorable. A Josh Haden cover (‘Spiritual’) pierces the soul with its poignant simplicity. The encore brings an idiosyncratic take on ‘Silent Night’, then the cathartic majesty of ‘Revival’ washes over the crowd like a cleansing tide. Simply beautiful.
By Chris Watkeys
Originally published in issue 13 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. December 2009