‘Welcome to my second annual farewell tour’ are the words that Mark greets his audience with, and so it begins, another night of self-deprecating humor and some of the best love songs ever written.
The banter revolves around the fact that Ron Sexsmith is playing in the Academy the same night (22/02/13) and that for only another €7.50 we (the audience) could have been there! Mark has set upon the notion that his adoring public have made the wrong choice and that we’d all secretly prefer to be across the Liffey at the other venue and no amount of shouting or cheering can convince him otherwise!
This incarnation of his band features a double bass, piano and a one-armed drummer (his other in a sling!). The obvious lack of a guitar means that we’ll have a few different interpretations of the songs we know, which isn’t a bad thing. He opens the set with a stunning version of ‘What holds the world together’ –
“The paper thin skin of a crowd chasing you
Down a lost and dead-end trail
With a guilt no alibi can curtail
The world is held together by the wind
That blows through Gena Rowland’s hair’
He plays ‘I love you but you’re dead’ and dedicates it to his career! A man as talented as Mark shouldn’t be playing venues as small as this one in his mid 50’s, but all attempts he’s made to break the mainstream have failed, and he’s left with a bunch of die-hard fans that will buy anything releases and discuss it at length. I doubt there was anyone in the audience that night that was seeing him for the first time, and not many looked like regular gig goers.
Between songs, Mark gives us an insight into how his songs are written and what inspires him. One is about the recent bout of assaults on people dressed up as cartoon characters at Disney world, another about a young woman who stalked him for several months and turned up outside his house wearing floppy hats so he wouldn’t recognise her.
He inadvertently plays ‘Apology for an accident’ after misreading the song list, which is scribbled on the inside of a paper plate, but no one complains about hearing this gem!
‘Well, I’ve been praying a lot lately
It’s because I no longer have a TV
Just a flourescent hangover to light the way
Between the things you say and the things I see’
Mark complains about the lack of the other elements of his rider backstage, a petting zoo including lamas and sheep, a middle aged woman wearing a smock with presents in each of the pockets, and a gun! He keeps promising to shut up between songs and just play the music, but it never happens, and everyone there enjoys his random conversation as much as the music.
At the end of the set, the guitar that was nestled in it’s stand for the duration of the evening is picked up, and we are treated to a few of his older songs, a revised version of a song his manager told him to never play again ‘Bad Liquor’ and a wonderful version of ‘Firefly’ to finish the evening.
His live show has changed a lot through the years, sometimes he plays by himself and there’s been various incarnations of American Music Club and other bands, but the quality of the lyrics has always been there and that voice! It’s great to have him back on stage, after a troubling couple of years. Here’s to the third annual farewell tour and many more after.
There’s another two dates in his Irish Tour, so get there if you can!
23 Feb 2013 – Kilkenny – Cleeres
25 Feb 2013 – Galway – Roisin Dubh
To see Mark’s set on Radio 3, click here.
You can hear version of ‘I love you but you’re dead’, ‘Misson Rock Resort’, ‘Why I’m bullshit’ among others. Over 20 minutes of the band live!