Opener Duke Garwood was clearly a step too far for a lot of the audience. Psych Blues that sort of drifted into the air like smoke from a campfire as if it wasn't quite sure where it should go. He's got a way of playing that's a little like tuning up and soundchecking...which isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it (I did), but the venue was probably a little big and the audience a little too mixed to work out right (once people start nattering it tends to spoil the 'vibe').
On to the main event. I almost hesitate to review Seasick Steve at all. It doesn't seem right to put a man who clearly belongs to a pre computer era on the net in any way, shape or form. Maybe I should write the review on a piece of old wood and nail it to an oak tree somewhere...or maybe I should just get on with it? Okay. The blues can, in this modern era, seem pretty remote and difficult to identify with. Not so with Seasick. He's there. He's a real as you can get. And he's got a song about his dead dog. How blues can you get? It's not just the songs that made tonight such a great gig though, it's the little stories too. Like Julian Cope a few weeks ago, each track was put into context. We knew what it was about, why it was written, how it fitted in to his life. You got to feel like a friend, not just a member of the audience. Extraordinary. He just looks the part too. Long grey beard, fading tattoos, dungarees, baseball cap, battered guitar, wooden box to stamp his foot on...every inch the hobo tramp that he was and still is...although now he gets a lot more than just loose change for his performancs. It was the end of the set that really got me though. Although I'd been told about his customary shaking the hands of the audience at the end, I didn't really expect him to go climbing over seats and shuffling through row upon row of people. But he did. Until he'd shaken the hand of each and every person still there. Then he sat and signed stuff. The fact that this guy had a major heart attack a few years ago makes this all the more remarkable. Too soon to call him a living legend? Probably. After all the first time most of us saw him was on Jools Holland's last New Year Hootanannyididdleeydo. I'm sure there are other Seasick's out there who also deserve their time in the sun too. Although whether they would have the presence, dignity and respect for their audience as this one is another matter altogether. But, whatever you want to call him, if you get the chance to see Steve, take it. The blues have never been so dang hot.