It’s been a long time since the world has glimpsed Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse on stage. After six years, he has put finally put out another album, Dreamt For Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain, swelling with an amazing supporting cast ranging from Tom Waits to Danger Mouse. Not only are the high quality songs on this newest release in the same vain as in the greatly loved 2001 release It’s a Wonderful Life, but they also hold up just as well and demonstrate how a man can put out consistently great material…even if it takes him a little longer than us music fans would like.
One wouldn’t necessarily picture Mark Linkous as a real captivating frontman. Instead, you might picture him alone in black and white obscured from the public with an amorphous object by his side, which incidentally happens to be the main picture on his MySpace page. While it’s true that he is somewhat understated, making minimal banter and refraining from launching into any heady overextended guitar solos, there were some definite things that added to his stage presence. For one, the fan blowing around his rock-style hair lit up by oranges and blue tinges helped. He also really looked at the audience when he was singing and acted as if, despite reporting feeling ill, he was glad to be adored by so many.
The strange thing about the night was perhaps the fact that, despite his recent album’s release, the setlists he is playing on this tour mainly consist of songs off of older favorites of his from 1995’s Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot which seems odd considering most musicians and bands tour to support their new songs and encourage more fans to purchase their new album. Despite this, the 75 minute set rewarded both old and new fans with the dynamically tight playing of his backing bandmates helping to bring about bass, keyboards, and pedal steel to the range of wafting guitar effects. I’m sure most of the audience felt he left the stage too soon despite playing an encore of “Gold Day” from It’s a Wonderful Life (for some reason, he decided not to play “Homecoming Queen” even though there's an abbreviated "H.Q." written down at the bottom right of the setlist pictured below).