Mark Lanegan Band: Princess Pavilion, Falmouth

By Simon Hadley

“We love you Mark!” screams a heckler in the audience. He was excited for one reason: Mark. Lanegan. In. Falmouth.

Falmouth is a picturesque, coastal resort, primarily occupied by students and the retired. The Princess Pavilion is proof of this: Posters lining the walls of tribute acts and weekly club nights, while in the centre is a quaint, Edwardian bandstand; its beauty enhanced in the evening sun. To say that this is an unlikely venue to hear Lanegan’s signature, rasping croon is an understatement.

In fact, it’s a miracle that Lanegan is here at all: homelessness, imprisonment, substance abuse and rehab would test, if not destroy, the average man – that’s before we get into the demise of the Screaming Trees. Ironically, the 48-year-old outlaw is currently enjoying – although he never looks like it – his most successful spell: Blues Funeral was released to rave reviews; topping 2004’s Bubblegum, while he has recently been confirmed as Mad Season’s new vocalist.

After being treated to Creature with the Atom Brain’s lurching, bleary-eyed stomp, Lanegan, accompanied by his hand-picked four-piece – including Atom Brain’s keyboardist, Aldo Struyf – appears from the shadows. Dressed naturally in black, he opens with ‘The Gravedigger’s Song’ before trudging through ‘St Louis Elegy’ – delivering each lyric with a haunting, reflective grimace: “If tears were liquor / I’d have drunk myself sick.”

Keeping conversation to a minimum, Lanegan quipped that “it was an honour to play here,” and seemed genuinely taken with the town: Rather than exiting onto his grand, black tour bus, he made for the merchandise stall; interacting and signing autographs for star-struck locals. Come back soon, Mark.