|Gig/Concert:||Seasick Steve with Amy Lavere
|Venue:||Aberdeen Music Hall, Aberdeen, Scotland|
|Date:||23 October, 2008|
Seasick Steve is a guy people either love or hate it seems, I’m most certainly the former. Like most other folk over in the UK, I first saw him on Jools Holland’s Hootananny where he played Dog House Boogie – what a song. That song led onto his second record selling upwards of 100,000, which for any man, let alone a guy who used to sleep on the streets is a pretty big deal.
His new record’s out as of a few weeks ago and his tour to support the record ends up in Aberdeen, bonnie Scotland. The queue outside is long, the show is sold out and everyone is desperate to get in.
First up though is the support, Seasick as some sort of phantom announces them before they take the stage. He says he likes them a lot. Amy LaVere is a very talented small girl and her voice matches her stature. Her songs are slightly gloomy but still music you want to dance to. She plays upright bass and along with her bearded guitarist and unfazed drummer they make effortlessly great music. I would describe it as Gram Parsons via Santana in places. The guitarist has that beautiful James Burton GP era sound on his guitar and the drummer plays beats you can really wiggle your hips to at times.
For such a shy sounding girl her music is very sexual in places when the beat is right, rocking when the amp’s turned up and very country when she really uses her voice. If you get the chance to see this Tennessee three I highly demand it.
And now to the man himself. After seeing Seasick Steve a year ago in a venue half the size everything seems totally strange. Now he has a drummer, a backdrop and a heap of roadies which I suppose is a big change – I dig it though, and I’m happy for his success.
He takes to the stage and greets the crowd, this man is loved and gives the love right back. He seems truly grateful to be here. SSS opens up with Thunderbird – a song about cheap wine he used to (maybe still does) drink in his hobo days leading to massive applause, followed by various songs from his back catalogue.
“If he wasn’t famous people would call him a dirty man but on stage he can do what the hell he wants! The adoration he gets from his fans as a newcomer in his 60’s must seem strange to him, but he’s certainly making the most of it.“
Then comes the song I want to hear, a nice love song called Walking Man which he sings to a nervous looking girl called Iona. If he wasn’t famous people would call him a dirty man but on stage he can do what the hell he wants! The adoration he gets from his fans as a newcomer in his 60’s must seem strange to him, but he’s certainly making the most of it.
The drummer plays effortlessly and works incredibly well with Seasick’s basic setup. Save Me starts off as a very simple song played on his one stringed guitar (known as a Diddly Bow) and with the drums ends up as a Sonic Youth style jam where he uses every limb possible to make a noise, this includes putting a tambourine around his neck and beating it with his shoulders.
Steve also duets with Amy LaVere, when they sing Hank William’s ballard I’m so lonesome I could cry – I hope they record that one. This song has been covered by dozens of artists, and it takes a hell of a lot to beat the Elvis version in my books but they totally did just that.
The formula of Seasick Steve is a very simple one and I can see why some people don’t like him, but it’s so much more than music. My father who attended the show was unimpressed by his breakthrough album but thoroughly enjoyed the show from start to finish. His music is made for a live environment and one that needs an audience to bring out the best in him. I like the albums n’ all but the performance is what hooked me and the performance hooks me again tonight.
I overheard someone leaving the show saying “You only need to see him once” – I 100% disagree with that statement. OK, the shows have a similar basic structure but man he’ll wow you every time. Either by himself or now with his backing drummer and road crew, Seasick Steve will do everything to win over an audience.
© Danny Crombie