There's nothing that can prepare you for walking into a room where Billy The Vision And The Dancers are letting off steam. A mixed array of bright colours sway merrily on the stage, featuring various instruments and characters; the stand out one being cross-dressed singer Lars Lindquist. It's as if Lost Vagueness have grabbed a selection of the finest on its books and arranged a tour.
The Swedes music is lovely though; containing sweet melodies with unassuming vocals. It's a little splash of indie pop, with the inclusion of a trumpet playing the tune structure giving it a solid edge. Album names like 'I Was So Unpopular In School And Now They´re Giving Me This Beautiful Bicycle' go some way to explaining a little of the attire.
The seven piece are easily exhibitionists, as the group bow at the end proves, but also hard working, having constantly toured for the past few years. So they may look strange to some, but as soon as the music starts the amount of good vibes they give out with their upbeat music is apparent.
Seasick Steve on the other hand just has his ZZ-Top beard, denim and white sleeveless t-shirt to wear. Its all down to his musical skills, though the ladies do like it when he reveals his shoulders and braces!
The 68 year old can give a lot of younger performers a run for their money; joking, singing and navigating the stage as though he was half his age (by his terms he is a "song and dance man", not just a bluesman.
He starts the show by wandering along the pit area and singing (with quite a strong voice; you can hear it at the back) over the barriers. Still singing he wanders around the back and onto the stage, where he carries on with 'My Donney'.
After 'Cut My Wings', (a strange title for a hobo song) he is joined by a drummer wearing a Leeds scarf, much to (most of) the crowds delight. The now infamous Three Stringed Trance Wonder (a three stringed guitar) is shown to the crowd, along with Steve asking "How many of you know the story? Do I have to tell it again?! Maybe later". (He is referring to the fact that he bought it from a friend called Sherman, who the day before had paid £50 pounds less and then sold it to him in a knackered condition. Steve then vowed to tell everyone at his shows how he was ripped off!)
We are treated to a little bit of schooling by learning some hobo speak, such as "Bo" for Hobo, "Choke Picker" for artichoke picker(?!) and "Cali" for California. This really helped when trying to decipher the song 'Working Man'.
Speaking of his heart attack experience and the doctors advice to stop smoking, drinking etc, 'Heart Attack' is his answer to the things you can do after the terrible experience. This hasn't stopped the weathered looking man drinking Jack Daniels, which he is sharing with Billy The Vision And The Dancers. "I can only drink to the label, there are more of them to have some". His drummer quickly quips "Take the label!"
The chants of "Steveo!" lead Steve to proclaim "You all crazy up here!" several times through the set. The diddly bow makes an appearance towards the end of the show (Steve complains that he doesnt have a band aid, the strings are like cheese wire). The bow has one string, over which Steve uses a slide to make many sounds (at times some scratching, and he mimics a DJ with his free hand). The sounds are distorted and in a good way; the drums give it a full sound. At the end part of the drum kit gets knocked over and Steve scrapes the bow over his old amp, in a move that Nirvana would have been proud of!
After only a brief break of a matter of seconds he is back to tell us a sad tale of his dog ('One True') that is quite heartbreaking (though some of the crowd laugh through this song).
'Dog House Boogie' is obviously a crowd favourite as they all wake up a bit, and the 'MDM' (The Mississippi Drum Machine, a wooden box complete with a licence plate and some carpet), gets a good old thumping. The sell out crowd here tonight thoroughly loved the show, as the man himself states "Americans don't know who I am but over here in England you do, and I thank you." No thank you, for bringing some good old American blues and storytelling to a cold and windy night in Leeds.
Cut My Wings
St Louis Slim
Fly By Night
Dog House Boogie