|Masters of Reality|
|December 2, 2001 - Astoria, London [UK]|
Deep In The Hole
Band: Chris Goss,
Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri, John Leamy
Masters of Reality / Mark Lanegan
Astoria, London - December 2, 2001
It's a pretty damning indictment of British rock fans that the upstairs of the Astoria is closed for an all too rare Masters of Reality show, and yet down in South London a bunch of Germans are dancing about waving prosthetic ejaculating penises at a packed audience. Well, you get what you deserve, and on this showing, the majority of the rock concert going public deserves nothing.
Not so Masters of Reality. On the back of one of the finest albums of 2001 in Deep In The Hole main man Chris Goss and faithful drummer John Leamy have enrolled Queens Of The Stone Age men Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri, and despite almost non-existent publicity the downstairs of the venue is packed.
Despite one song from the band's awesome Sunrise On The Sufferbus set, a hefty slice of new material lays down the kind of effortless groove many bands could only dream of. Goss nails it every time and while Homme happily thrashes away at his guitar, Oliveri thankfully keeps his clothes on for once. It's the sound of four friends really enjoying themselves; you can sense the enjoyment emanating from the stage.
Both 'The Blue Garden' and 'John Brown' dip right back to the 1988 debut, heavy-duty slices of psychedelic blues, while opening couplet 'Deep In The Hole' and 'Third Man On The Moon' from the new album show Goss' spirit remains strong. The highlight, however, is when Mark Lanegan joins the band for a spirited run through the classy 'High Noon Amsterdam'.
Inexplicably, on his return as headline act, Lanegan shrouds the stage in darkness and petulantly toys with the audience for just half an hour and then sulks off stage. Moody swine; must have sensed he'd already been blown away. [Jerry Ewing]
Mark Lanegan, Masters of Reality, Anyone
Astoria, London - Sunday December 2, 2001
"Some people are looking confused," grins guitarist/vocalist Riz Storey of Anyone (8/10). "This is maximum acid music and if you didn't smoke a joint... forget it!" Though their arrival is greeted by stony silence, the Californian trio's colourful intensity is hard to ignore and pockets of applause gradually ripple as they rage through 'Giving Thrills' and the Jane's Addiction-esque 'Don't Wake Me'. Though some make no secret of their amusement at Story's effeminate manner and exaggerated showmanship, Anyone ultimately triumph.
Maybe the audience's resistance to the openers - who've never been produced by Chris Goss or been cool enough to appear on the Desert Sessions - can be explained by their exclusion from this evening's incestuous little circle. Having produced both Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age, Masters mainman Goss is tonight accompanied by QOTSA guitarist Josh Homme and bassist Nick Oliveri, while the bill is topped by new Queens arrival Mark Lanegan (whose own rhythm section includes QOTSA alumni Gene Troutman and Dave Catching).
Masters of Reality (9/10) make it all look so easy. Basing their set around the new Deep In The Hole album, songs like 'Third Man On The Moon' and the chugging title track prompt mile-wide smiles all around the hall. Vaguely Queens-sounding, the wheel's turned full circle. Lanegan strolls on to sing 'High Noon Amsterdam', but the night's real highlight is a shimmering version of 'John Brown'.
The only positive comment we could make about Mark Lanegan (2/10) is that his performance finishes 15 minutes earlier than advertised. Look in the dictionary under the word 'tedium' and you'll probably find a Lanegan mp3. If you like your shows to be badly lit, performed with negligible enthusiasm and to be presented by a self-pitying old grump with all the charisma of a three-week-old piece of roadkill, this is the guy for you. [Dave Ling]
Mark Lanegan, Masters of Reality
London Astoria - Sunday, December 2, 2001
They move as a family, the better to repel their enemies. Josh Homme has long talked of Queens Of The Stone Age as being surrounded by an extensive web of musicians and artists around LA and Palm Desert. A tightly-knit, fiercely loyal brethren who'll ensure that once inducted, you'll never be short of allies - or a decent bassist - ever again
On their winter manoeuvres round Europe, the organisation's ideals have been put into practice. Virtually all of the current Queens Of The Stone Age line-up are here, playing supporting roles to Chris Goss (producer of Rated R and intermittent leader of Masters of Reality since the late-'80s) and Mark Lanegan (sometime Queens vocalist). If it wasn't for their presence, you can imagine Goss being a little, well, resentful of the Queens' recent success: after all, he's been cranking out very similar weighty, purposeful and tuneful music since they were kids gathered round a generator in the desert. If anything, though, Masters of Reality are more inclined to heavy blues-rock, with 'John Brown' a dead ringer for Led Zeppelin. And there's the odd cosmically-inclined lyric - though when Lanegan joins them for a searing 'High Noon Amsterdam', it's plain that Goss shares the guilt-free partying agenda.
Lanegan, of course, grew out of excess a while back, as the brooding confessions of Field Songs attested. But his great gift, whether indulging or not, has always been to write about extreme drug use without apology, glorification or self-pity. He remains a more convincingly surly outlaw than the gristly frauds on the alt.country circuit who fancy themselves as such. The demise of Screaming Trees and his new ties with the Queens seem to have reawakened his desire to rock; given that he has perhaps the greatest rock 'n' roll voice of his generation, a voice that conveys a terrible understanding of mortality with calmness and strength, that can only be a good thing.
By the end, Lanegan's pinned to his mic stand as the raging mantra of 'Gospel Plow' burns around him. Rock's most fearless family couldn't have wished for a better recruit. [John Mulvey]