HE IS a man who is better known for his tough guy credentials than his guitar skills.
Yet long before Steven Seagal became one of Hollwood’s leading action stars, he was already an accomplished blues player.
Almost five decades since he first picked up a guitar, the Under Siege star is midway through another tour with his blues band – and The Brook in Southampton was the latest venue to play host to them last night Of course it is not the first time Seagal has played in the city, having played at The Brook in 2007.
But this time he has been in the spotlight more than usual, having been dropped from an Estonian music festival this summer due to his support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he considers a personal friend.
Yet while his links with the Russian premier are under greater scrutiny than ever following recent events in Ukraine, the big man let his music do the talking in impressive fashion last night.
His four-strong band launch into a boogie-tastic instrumental intro, before Seagal strolls on stage wearing a Panama hat and is handed a guitar.
As befitting a man who has not only been inspired by the likes of BB King and Johnny Lee Hooker but actually played with them, he has some serious skills.
Seagal sings sparingly, often preferring to set forth on extended solos, but when he does sing he does so in soulful, gravelly tones befitting the best of his blues idols.
Given his delta blues stylings hail from America’s Deep South, the venue is suitably sweltering as Seagal and co romp through a series of rambling toe-tappers.
While the focus is most definitely on the pony-tailed and goatee-wearing action star, who dwarfs every guitar he plays, there is able support from both his impressive backing singer and the band, with flourishes of Hammond organ and smart drumming provided throughout the gig.
A few quick jokes with the crowd aside, he remains enigmatic behind his sunglasses and Panama for much of the gig, but does touch on some current events elsewhere in the world when he urges “all of us to respect each other, allowing each other to be who they are”, before launching into the fittingly-titled, funk-tinged My God?. And while he may never be the most technically-proficient of guitarists, his music has buckets of heart and soul, and he is just as charismatic a presence with a guitar in hand as on the silver screen.
He is cheered on enthusiastically by the crowd throughout the course of the set, none more so than when he returns for a raggedly-soulful stomp of an encore.
For the man most famous for undertaking dangerous assignments, turning a little part of Hampshire into the Mississippi Delta for one night is certainly mission accomplished.