Seasick Steve

support Gemma Ray
author BV date 21/10/13 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Ugh, the Monday blues. We’ve all been there, waking up in time to go to work after a weekend, feeling absolutely destroyed whilst hardly able to wait for the next weekend to turn up. On this Monday night, however, I was about to exchange my Monday blues with some of that sweet hobo-blues that, is just downright perfect to put things into a little perspective – whilst also providing a mighty fine excuse to drink a few beers on an otherwise dull weekday. So it was with a sense of relief and anticipation that I went into Store Vega, hoping to catch a truly special performance from a man who is, above all, known for putting on a good show.

All photos by Peter Troest

Gemma Ray

The support act of the evening came in the form of singer/songwriter Gemma Ray. As she, and her two supporting musicians, took the stage around 8pm the air of Store Vega was one of anticipation, as the nearly filled hall quietly settled down to hear what this particular young woman had to offer. As she went through her 30 or so minutes of folk-noir inspired, slightly dreamy songs, the crowd listened attentively whilst quietly letting her get a full grasp on them. The séance turned somewhat monotonous somewhere in the middle of her set, as her songs tended to flow together both lyrically and musically – this was, however, quickly solved by introducing a knife she had strapped to her guitar, by using it as a slide to create some seriously haunting, slightly cacophonic lead lines in one of her darker tracks close to the end of her set. The acoustics of Store Vega suited her voice splendidly and if she had managed to be just a little bit more diverse throughout her 30 minutes, the performance would actually have been quite noteworthy in itself. Nonetheless, the crowd applauded greatly as she left the stage – somewhat satisfied by her sounds, but more than ready for the man of the hour, Seasick Steve, to come out and play (so to speak).

7

Seasick Steve

It was hardly 9pm before Seasick Steve casually strolled onto the stage.- A weary-looking man at first, but strangely vibrant as well. With his 72 years of age the man is, of course, excused for seeming weary but other than him being seated for most of his show, there was not a single sign of aging going on, on that stage. As he casually opened with an electrified version of “Treasures”, it was an odd sensation to experience an absolutely packed Store Vega quietly awaiting the very next note from Seasick Steve as they were, by all means, completely enthralled from the very first chord he struck. Add to that his somewhat haunted, extremely soulful vocals and you’ve got a sure winner. As he moved on into “My Donny”, he was finally joined by drummer Dan Magnusson halfway through the song – completing the band of the night. Now empowered from the added dynamics of a drummer, Seasick Steve’s continued exploits seemed to never dull nor decay, as the duo on stage jammed their way through cascades of dusty blues-licks perfectly fitting for a Monday. Music was not the only thing going on, on stage though. Seasick Steve is also a damn fine storyteller, thoroughly providing background info on all of his eclectic homemade guitars. Therefore, it was not without a sense of humor that his trusted 4-stringed ‘cigar-box’ guitar broke down halfway through “I Don’t Know Why She Love Me, But She Do” – where Seasick Steve proudly proclaimed; ”I made it, so I get to break it I guess!”.

As far as showmanship and audience contact goes, Seasick Steve is hardly too proud to shake things up with old tricks. As is tradition by now, he pulled up a lovely looking lady from the audience right before launching into “Walkin’ Man” – a track he proclaimed to be romantic, before embarking on one of the most crowd-pleasing antics of the night. There was a certain aura of authenticity to it all that rings with a certain Kerouac-esque familiarity as Seasick Steve pummeled through blues-song after blues-song about life as a drifting hobo managing to live hand-to-mouth, whilst he retained a downright humorous and down-to-earth appearance on stage – looking positively humbled after each round of applause (of which there were many). Moving on to “I Don’t Fear”, the crowd got a glimpse of the ‘sailor-reminiscent’ language at Seasick Steve’s disposal, as he remarked: ”I tried to figure out what I fear most in this world. Then I thought, what about death? Then I said to myself; fuck death, I ain’t afraid of that motherfucker!” – A nugget of unadulterated wisdom, I guess, and an insanely witty remark in the heat of the moment, that sure as hell got its fair share of thunderous applause and agreeing shouts.

As the night came close to an end with two encore songs, followed by another, the crowd seemed hell-bent on staying to listen to more – with Seasick Steve sadly remarking that he couldn’t stay for much longer as he had to ”drive down to fucking Holland over night!” nonetheless, the night seemed nearly flawless due to the eclectic blend of stories from ‘the road’, his highly authentic blues songs and his utter humility on stage. It was a night of humor, good tunes and a general vibe of relaxation perfectly suited for that irritating Monday blues – and I can’t wait for a chance to see him again.

Setlist:

  • 1. Treasures
  • 2. Fallen Off a Rock
  • 3. Have Mercy on the Lonely
  • 4. My Donny
  • 5. Self Sufficient Man
  • 6. Home
  • 7. Don't Know Why She Love Me, But She Do
  • 8. Walkin' Man
  • 9. Freedom Road
  • 10. Save Me
  • 11. Never Go West
  • 12. Dark
  • 13. It's a Long, Long Way
  • 14. I Don't Fear
  • 15. Thunderbird
  • 16. Keep On Keepin' On

--Encore--

  • 17. Gentle on My Mind (John Hartford cover)
  • 18. Dog House Boogie
  • 19. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams cover)

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