Seasick Steve - Academy
Live Review

Seasick Steve – Academy, Manchester

Sitting centre stage in a packed out Acedemy 2, armed with only a battered guitar and a pair of equally battered dungarees is the unmistakable figure of Seasick Steve; a living, breathing, caterwauling piece of musical history. Once the obedient pupil of blues legend John Lee Hooker, “Seasick” Steven Wold went from jumping boxcars and busking for change on the streets of California to major record deals and sold-out trans-atlantic tours, eclipsing his mentor in a way reminiscent to that of Aristotle and Plato…

OK, maybe I’m getting ahead of my self here, it’s just that it’s very easy to fall into the trap of viewing Wold’s music as a sideshow gimmick or an anachronistic diversion from modernity; after all no one wants to spend ten pounds of their hard earned cash just to pretend they’re in “O Brother Where Art Thou?”, we can do that at home.

However, this is where Seasick Steve truly comes into his own; far from simply being an antiquated history lesson, Steve is a showman in the truest sense of the world.

With just a three stringed guitar and a rhythm section consisting of stamping his Doc Marten on the ground, Wold holds the audience in the palm of his hand for a full hour. We are captivated by his charisma and long to be blessed with just one iota of his effortless cool. This is Joe Strummer’s “three chords and the truth” ethic in its purest, most stripped down form and cuts straight to the heartfelt roots of contemporary music. Musicians of his ilk were raging about political injustice long before the likes of Rotten, Rollins and Mackaye; they were screaming their gutter poetry long before Plant and Morrison. Even hip-hop and it’s offshoots owe a debt to the venomous, rapid-fire refrains of the old blues greats.

So while he may not be re-inventing the wheel, Seasick Steve is ramming home the point that the blues never went away, it still resides deep in the raucous heart of popular music. Current ‘it’ band The Cribs are asking “Don’t You Want to be Relevant?”; I doubt if Steve Wold cares, but with such a ragged honesty and brutal truth at his disposal, its impossible for him not to be.

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