As a huge Pearl Jam fan, I have way more live versions of their angst-ridden debut hit, Alive, than most people would deem sane. But none of them sound remotely like the version played by Steve’n’Seagulls .
Coming on like bunch of Appalachian hill-billies, Steve’n’Seagulls are a Finnish five-piece who blend bluegrass with rock and metal. It’s a curious mix, but judging by the busy house tonight, not an unpopular one. They’re not unique, Hayseed Dixie have been ploughing a similar furrow for some time.
However, these guys are not afraid to tackle the genre’s sacred texts – they kick off with a rollicking take on Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog, barreling straight into Iron Maiden’s The Trooper. There’s a frenetic version on Pantera’s I’m Broken led by bassist Pukki, and a take on Metallica’s early, and particularly thrashy song, Seek and Destroy, that would give the original a run for its money. Remmel is a charismatic frontman, ably assisted by multi-instrumentalist Herman and I’ve never seen an accordion played behind the head, as Hiltunen does.
Given that most casual heavy music fans would recognise most of the setlist, their original songs don’t disgrace themselves in the company. Down By The River and Faster Than Light both hold their own. But it’s their cover of AC/DC’s stomping Thunderstruck that earns the night’s biggest cheer.
They finish the main set with an Irish folk-tinged rendition version of Gary Moore’s Over The Hills and Far Away (as also covered by fellow Finns Nightwish). They see us out with Guns’n’Roses’ Paradise City before closing with another AC/DC classic You Shook Me All Night Long.
There were massive grins all round, including this reviewer’s. If only all cover acts could be this much fun – and still give it a twist of their own.