Should Steven Seagal stick to movies?
The Mojo Priest preaches the blues in Ipswich
By Stephen Foster
These days no one bats an eyelid when a rock star attempts to become a movie star. But when a well known actor crosses over into music there's often a lot of scepticism.
The latest Hollywood icon to strap on a guitar is Steven Seagal or should I say Mojo Priest. Seagal made his name starring in the 1992 film Under Siege but sadly for him the Ipswich Regent wasn't exactly under siege by fans when he performed there on his current tour.
The place was barely a quarter full and by the time he came off stage many of those who had bothered to buy a ticket were already on their way home.
Having enjoyed his album I was looking forward to the show. His latest CD features guests appearances by blues greats like Ruth Brown, Hubert Sumlin, Bo Diddley and members of the Muddy Waters Band and mixes well chosen covers with some decent original songs.
Seagal's voice is a cross between John Lee Hooker and Tony Joe White and he knows his way round a guitar. The album doesn't break any new ground but more than illustrates his passion for the blues.
Vocalist and MC Jermaine Paul introduced the main man as Mojo Priest and we had to wait a good 20 minutes before Seagal uttered a word to the audience. To be fair the first few numbers weren't at all bad with Seagal's guitar playing gradually making an impact.
Seagal was joined by Jaki Graham
He was backed superbly by a group of excellent musicians from Memphis and it was great to see British soul star Jaki Graham on stage too but sadly she was a bit player in a show that cried out for more of her vocal magic. Her best contribution was her duet with Seagal on Love Doctor but after that her role diminished.
I was expecting the blues standards he covers on the CD to feature at some point but they didn't and instead the material lost its shape and the all too predictable solos arrived towards the end of the set.
There is absolutely no doubt that Jermaine Paul's charisma carried the whole show and if wasn't for the likeable New Yorker's efforts there wouldn't have been an encore.
Never in all my 30 years of concert going at The Regent have I witnessed such a lukewarm reception to the main show.
Just as the house lights were about to come back on out came Paul to manufacture an encore which at one point featured the driver of the tour bus dancing on stage, much to the amusement of everyone who'd stayed the course.
Judging by the queue of people waiting to meet the man in the foyer afterwards Mojo Priest did convert some to his cause but it wasn't a concert that will live long in my memory.
last updated: 11/04/2008 at 14:13