To the man in the audience yelling “gaun yersel’, Seasick!” in excited encouragement, it mattered not one bit that a biography of the man onstage released last year cast serious doubt upon the finer details of his heritage as a self-taught backwoods hobo musician, and suggested that he might actually just be a well-travelled session musician who had hit upon the right persona in later life. He and the rest of the audience were evidently here for the music and not the myth.
Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****
And what music it was. Seated in his uniform of grizzly grey beard and denim car mechanic chic, Steve Wold fluctuated between genuinely emotive country-sad acoustic poignancy and grizzled, ear-punishing electric blues-rock, the latter abetted only by his energetic drummer Dan Magnusson. He serenaded a woman plucked from the front row on Walkin’ Man, and Hard Knocks’ tuneful, plaintive cry for “the road where the hard knocks meet the hard rocks… not that storybook road” was a gee-up elegy to later life that’s not done yet.
Doubt as to whether this very sprightly apparent 70-something is really old enough to have found comfort in Love’s Signed DC upon its release in 1966 or mourned Bobby Kennedy in ’68 (“it was like somebody punched the politics outta me”) with Dick Holler’s Abraham, Martin & John were forgotten in the face of resonant covers of each.
“Ten years ago, I’d never heard of Jools Holland before I went on the show,” he growled. “But you all adopted me like a dog, and I thought, ‘if it can just last until the end of 2007...’” Seven albums later, the love for what he does is real.