at Tyne Journal Theatre, Newcastle, U.K., January 17, 2007

Well it certainly seems de rigour for every self-respecting Hollywood star to turnout with a band while proclaiming that music is their first love. Juliette Lewis, Russell Crowe, and Keanu Reeves have all pounded the stage away from the silver screen. Add to this a certain Martial Arts impresario, Steven Seagal and his band Thunderbox.

Certainly Segal is more well-known for punching the lights out of assorted bad guys on trains and ships, but he has a different side that not many people are aware of currently. Seagal first picked up a guitar as a twelve-year old after becoming captivated by the Blues legends of old, so his musical roots go beyond the current fads and fashions of jumping on the Rock ‘n’ Roll bandwagon. Seagal has forsaken the comfort of his Hollywood trailer to jump into the tour bus and criss cross across the United Kingdom on a mammoth three month, 40-odd date tour, bringing his brand of Hard Rocking Blues to the masses.

Early on in this venture, Seagal rode into Newcastle for a show at the atmospheric Victorian Tyne Theatre. A venue pretty full with old Blues heads, film buffs, and the plain curious. Undoubtedly, many there didn’t really know what to expect and wondered whether Seagal could make the grade in a live setting without the ability for retakes.

With the backing of a band of talented, seasoned pros, Seagal cut an imposing figure as he casually strolled onto the stage replete with a yellow satin jacket and trademark pony tail, and unleashed a flurry of notes from his Gibson Firebird as he paced from one side of the stage to the other with little expression, except for the odd grimace as he bent his strings to the breaking point.

After the opening instrumental, Seagal stepped up to the microphone and showed that he could deliver a laid back, moody vocal, perfectly suited for the smoking, Rock-laced Blues of Thunderbox. Playing songs from his new opus, Mojo Priest, Seagal tore through such ditties as “BBQ” and a thunderous ZZ Top-esq “Alligator Ass.” By this point, and much to the dismay of the sparse security guys, the crowd had surged to the front of the theatre as the boogie meter rose ever higher. A wry smile spread over Seagal’s craggy face as he beckoned the “pretty ladies” to the front.

While the audience was clearly there to see Seagal, there was far more on offer than purely Seagal’s performance. The slide guitar of Steve Bethany was low down and dirty, just like real Blues slide should be. The drums of the forceful Baby Girl drove the engine of the band, while the dual backing vocals of the delightful Shay Best and the energetic Jermaine Paul were soulful yet punchy and gave Thunderbox a real cutting edge. There’s no doubting that Best and Paul will become more familiar names in the future in their own right.

At times, they paid homage to the Southern Rock style of ZZ Top and Molly Hatchet, and at others — particularly on “Gotta Quit That Chick Tonight” — a more Funky, sassy side of the band was evident. By the final encore, a rowdy blast through “Wild Thing,” the house was a Rockin’ as Stevie Ray Vaughan once said. The fans went home happy with the performance of Seagal and his band and the cynics were pleasantly surprised that Seagal had delivered the goods. A solid night’s Boogie was had by all.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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