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Mark Lanegan, man of mystery, plays Great American Music Hall

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He has a steely, cobra-hooded gaze, tattoos down his sinewy arms all the way to the knuckles, and a singing voice so sepulchral it could give Boris Karloff himself the creeps.

Ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan cuts a rather imposing figure.

But he’s quick to caution fans that the anticipation of meeting him might exceed the actual event.

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“Although I’m not really aware of what the anticipation level is nowadays,” he says. “I’m sure that it just has to outweigh the reality. Because in truth, I’m really just a boring guy.”

Lanegan — who plays a special acoustic show in San Francisco on Tuesday — knows that decadence is a romantic notion, and that it might have worked well for him in his hard-partying youth.

But, at a wiser 46, he’s no longer a misanthrope.

“I quit drinking quite a few years ago, and everything else a few years after that,” he says. “And I even quit smoking almost three years ago, and that’s probably the smartest thing I’ve done in ages. And it was pretty easy, really.”

He also is experiencing a real Renaissance period, creatively.

After five solo sets that culminated in 2004’s “Bubblegum,” his recent exploits have included: touring and recording with his old chum Greg Dulli in both the Twilight Singers and the Gutter Twins; singing for U.K. electronica duo Soulsavers in studio and on the road; tracking a song with James Lavelle’s UNKLE project; periodically hooking up with his ex-outfit Queens of the Stone Age; and dueting on three albums with Scottish chanteuse Isobel Campbell, including last year’s Gothic-America-flavored “Hawk.”

“I’ve done a lot of stuff in the last few years,” says Lanegan, who just landed a new solo cut, “Burning Jacob’s Ladder,” on an upcoming video game called “Rage.”

“Mainly because I’ve had a lot of opportunities — and the energy — to do these things. And I enjoy it more now than I did when I was younger, when I was abusing myself. So now that I’m free of that stuff, I think this is a really good job. One that I love.”   

Lanegan hates to shatter the mysterious myth. But he’s basically a homebody. “I have a couple of dogs, and I love playing with them, and spending time with my girlfriend, watching basketball, and even cooking — just the normal stuff,” he says.

He just finished an alternate version of “Jacob’s” for his forthcoming Alain Johannes-produced comeback. What’s the record called?

Lanegan laughs, dark and ominous. “‘Blues Funeral’” he says, adding “Hey — I have to leave a little mystery, man!”

IF YOU GO

Mark Lanegan

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today
Tickets: $25
Contact: (415) 885-0750; www.gamhtickets.com



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