Chatting with Steve before, after and during the show his passion for grassroots venues bled with every word and mannerism. Steve spoke with the venue staff and I about how the tour came about and when shown posters of upcoming events he wanted to be kept up to date with what The Joiners had planned for the year; it was clear it wouldn’t be long before Steve returned as a customer.
‘[Steve used his book Going Deaf For a Living in his live show] as a reference point drop in musical anecdotes from every area of his career taking us far further than its text.’
The atmosphere and whispered conversations around the venue prior to the show were of anticipation not knowing exactly what to expect but when the PA played a recording of a sarcastic Sean Keaveny (a colleague of Steve’s on 6 Music) introducing the show in a game show type manner it was apparent comedy was part of the plan; comedy which Steve pulled off with surprising ease.
Interestingly as music fans we go to gigs to get an experience more than the album can provide and although many of the crowd didn’t know exactly why they were attending The Joiners to see Steve, they too got more than his book. However, this wasn’t a university lecture, prior knowledge of Steve’s work or his memoir was not essential. The first half of the show was loosely based around the memoir expanding on its text and including excerpts of audio relating to its chapters such as his legendary Oasis interview; dropping in cued audio set the mood of part seminar, part comedy, part theatre. Revisiting the book and expanding on it gave a good framework for ‘an introduction’ but fortunately Steve being the skilled raconteur used this as a reference point to drop in musical anecdotes from every area of his career taking us far further than its text. Unless you’re a friend or colleague of Steve’s you’re unlikely to have had the opportunity to hear early demos of now international acts such as Florence & The Machine and have Steve tell you what caught his attention in these demos when he had been sent them.
‘After the interval we saw Steve at his most intimate manner and even vulnerable.’
The main body of the book Going Deaf For a Living is nearly 20 years old and was written prior to Steve joining BBC 6 Music, thankfully the live show tentatively visits Steve’s 6 Music work but didn’t dive deeply into this period up to the present leading to further speculation that Steve will release a book to document these years. After the interval we saw Steve at his most intimate manner and even vulnerable. Steve spoke with honesty about his feelings losing his job on Radio 1 speaking in a way that showed clearly how difficult it was for him. Showing this side of him allowed Steve to reel off encounters with musicians without making us as the audience feel jealous or alienated; if you’re going to name drop such people as Bill (Billy Bragg to the audience) you must show your audience that you’re just as able as the rest of the world you to lose a job (or other mundanities of life). The delivery that Steve spoke about BBC 6 Music being saved by its fans spoke as if he was about to get off the stage and shake hands in thanks to every member; 6 Music is more than a job to Steve it is his home, his creative peak and his passion. Steve thanked his audience for their support with the longest meet & greet/signing we’ve ever experienced speaking with every audience member who wanted to for as long as the conversation naturally lasted. Over an hour after the show finished Steve, the venue staff and I exchanged a short chat before he left. Steve’s focus was on his audience giving them everything he could on and off the stage.