I enjoyed myself tremendously, standing a few feet from Mark Lanegan was the near religious experience it ought to be (and I really wasn’t trying to get that close, it just happened that way, lucky me) and the music and performances were powerful and energetic. Also I went alone, as is my wont, but made a couple of “show buddies”, Charlie and a fellow forum member who’s name I didn’t catch (Hi there!). We kept each other amused while we waited, and, thanks to Charlie’s height (a useful tall person, I like those!) and company, I scored Mark’s setlist and got it autographed by both Isobel and Mark after the show (I managed a half-intelligible expression of admiration when I approached Mark, even getting my mouth to open was an effort as I was so tired and we were kind of pouncing on him as he went to the tour bus).
Sadly, I don’t have much to say about Willy Mason beyond he has a nice voice. I wanted to like him, it wasn’t that, it’s just that he suffers from the same predicament that has affected pretty much every solo acoustic artist I’ve seen – they sound pretty monotonous.
Thankfully we didn’t have to wait terribly long for Mark and Isobel to take the stage (the amusement to be had from the drunk behind me wore off pretty quickly – and you know who you are, young man!). Both Mark and Isobel were pretty quiet at first, as far as banter (well, Mark’s only verbal contribution to banter the entire night was a “Thank you” before he left the stage for Willy to come back on). Watching the facial expressions and nonverbal communication that passed between them was a treat, they definitely have a shorthand worked out and seemed pretty attuned to one another. Isobel was actually quite sweet and adorable throughout the show. At one point a gentleman in the audience called out to her, “Isobel, you’re beautiful!” which prompted from her “Thank you, I feel … disgusting,” then she went on to explain she and the boys had just spent two days driving across North Dakota and Montana, she also apologized a couple of times during the set for being so tired. Willy Mason was much more interesting when he came back out to sing with Isobel and the band, they performed a couple of duets from “Hawk” then one of his own songs, which was so much better with a band that I think Mr. Mason really should consider finding a backing band. Another highlight was during the encore, while performing “(Do You Wanna) Come Walk With Me” several audience members were singing along, so Isobel got the whole crowd to join in and led us encouragingly through a chorus, even pointing out that she was off key! Mark seemed like he might have been a trifle tetchy at the start of the set, telling the sound person (?) his vocals were all over the place and tersely commanding “Fix it.” I was even too intimidated to try to take pictures of him until I’d seen him smile a couple of times. It didn’t help that I was right in his line of vision whenever he glanced down at his notebook, I know he wasn’t looking at me but I still felt like I should behave extra well! Mark did loosen up quite a bit, he was hard to photograph because he was never still – he kept swaying and moving to the music, and turning to shoot glances and occasionally grins at Isobel. Musically, the band was incredibly tight and clearly really enjoying themselves, local Jeff Fielder (I hope I don’t have that wrong!) was quite fun to watch as he played. All of the band was fun to watch, I just had a better view of Jeff. When I approached Isobel after the show I nearly told her she should turn her vocals up more, she was pretty easy to hear but she does, as on the albums, seem to vocally defer to Mark, and sings under him, I love their voices together and wouldn’t mind hearing her vocals turned up, but I never can manage to get much out when I’m actually speaking to someone like that so I just gushed how much I loved her voice and enjoyed the show. It was entirely due to Charlie’s telling me he was going to hang out to try to meet Mark and Isobel that I stayed, I never would have had the nerve alone. There was no official meet and greet, we (all of us faithful lurkers) got a chance to approach Isobel when she came out to get something from the stage, she was very sweet and obliging and I am very glad I stuck around. As I mentioned earlier Charlie and I kind of pounced on Mark later as he exited the club, again my thanks to Charlie (also for the use of his pen as I forgot mine. What a lifesaver was Charlie!), I would never have had the nerve to call out to Mark and ask for his autograph, I would have just smiled at him as he walked by (it doesn’t always pay to be shy). Mark was very gracious, also quite soft spoken. My only complaint about the show was that it ended!