Just another crummy day in the miserable life of Mark Eitzel and he’s spending it, where else, onstage. Nobody travels the dark side of despair and emotional abandonment quite like the former American Music Club front man, but he truly exceeds the saturation point as a solo artist without the added textures of a band.
Song after song, Eitzel reopened wounds and channeled bad memories, taking the tortured road at every turn and resolving conflicts with bitterness and gloom. Previous tours with backing units, in support of his two tremendous Warners discs before the current Matador album “Caught in a Trap,” saw at least a glimmer of hope in the material and a bit of a jovial spirit. No more.
When his off-the-cuff comments aren’t going wildly off some philosophical deep end, he lathers up in self-pity and self deprecation. He seems to be the only pro musician out there who can’t keep a guitar in tune (he once busted a malfunctioning ax at the Troubadour) and who treats a bad cord to the amp as a life-and-death issue.
Funny thing is, if he had stopped at the 65-minute mark when he said he’d play just one more, it wouldn’t be a stretch to recall the soulfulness of his voice, a deep yet aching blend of Nick Drake and Chet Baker, and the variety of phrasing he displays on the acoustic guitar. But he chose to extend the agonizing set another half-hour, turning what had been an anguished riff into a one-note drone.