Seasick Steve’s path to the success he today enjoys as a Norway-based musician has been no walk in the park. Having run away from a disturbed military father at the tender age of 14, Steve, originally from California, spent many years on the road as a hobo before eventually settling in Scandinavia. With no musical education whatsoever and an array of self-constructed crude instruments, Steve redefines what it is to be a musician in today’s era of glam-drunk superstardom – and his live shows are, as yesterday’s concert at Vega attests; as genuine a performance as you’ll find for miles around and years to come.
Walking calmly onto the stage clad in a John Deere tractor hat and worn jeans, Steve introduced the crowd to his signature blues rock sound, strumming passionately on his guitar to the tune of ‘Self sufficient man’ off his 2013 album Hubcap Sound. He was then joined by his drummer, Dan Magnusson, sporting a t-shirt emblazoned with a poetic ‘Go to hell stoned’ print in bold text on its front. This was followed by Steve’s wandering into the crowd and pulling a girl on stage, to whom he then sang the slow, acoustic track ‘Walking Man’, much to the envy of every lady in the house.
Having established a firm bond with the audience, Steve and drummer Magnusson got better and better as the concert rolled on, with Steve experimenting with his array of crude, homemade instruments, which amongst others included a one-string diddley bo that sounded remarkably refined, for an object fashioned of a wood plank with aluminum cans on one end. Cultivating this ad hoc approach to musicianship, Steve and Magnusson wooed the audience time and again, combining seamlessly together to produce a primitive, bellowing blues sound that had a pronounced effect on the crowd, who were extraordinarily responsive. This was particularly evident towards the end of the show, which featured drummer Magnusson improvising by sweeping a broom back and forth on the stage, giving off a whispered whistling hiss, not too unlike that made by a conventional shaker.
Buoyed by the eager crowd, Steve rounded off the show by singing what seemed to be an improvised short version of the tale of his running away as a teenager, a rendition that drove him to the depths of his emotions. A double encore and a rousing applause at the end of his show said all that needed to be said about the concert of this wandering boheme-turned-rockstar, who has repeatedly broken and redefined the nous of musicianship.