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Paul Steel

Pressure Point

27 September 2006

The great thing about living in Brighton and being a music lover is there are so many great local bands and equally great venues to see them in. London is probably the only place to better Brighton in the gig stakes but given the choice of living in Brighton or London, I know which I would choose. The Pressure Point is a great venue for new acts, yet even at the age of twenty, Paul Steel has been around long enough to amass a fairly large following. Brighton Live is an inspired event that is 100% free which makes it all the more special. The fact that it's free and held during freshers week allows a lot of people the opportunity to go and see bands they may not have done so ordinarily. The night was strangely mild for a late September evening and The Pressure Point began to fill with eager music fans looking forward to seeing Brighton's young warrior of surreal rock.

Paul Steel has played to crowds in Florida recently and will soon be embarking on tour with the mighty Ed Harcourt, so with that in mind I had this gig marked in my diary as a must. The upstairs hall of The Pressure Point began to fill and there was a tangible sense of excitement in the air, the moment Paul Steel entered the stage with his band in tow the crowd cheered in delight. The band erupted into a set which draws you in from the very instant they start; this is happy music, joyful and fun without being novelty. There is a storytelling quality to Paul's lyrics, which is similar to the Super Furry Animals and The Flaming Lips, which is also complimented by extremely well crafted songs. Paul plays his keyboard with pure vigour which can't be easy, how many keyboard players do you see dancing their socks off yet still be able to bang out a great tune. 'Rust and Dust' is a stunning song, which sounds pure theatrical with Paul's warm vocals guiding you through the symphony. When I first saw Paul Steel nearly a year ago I must admit I did think to myself 'Hmm who is this guy fronting a band titled with his own name'. There are of course many artists who have bands yet go with their own name, Paul Weller and David Bowie to name a couple. David Bowie had Mick Ronson in his band one of the greatest guitarists ever. Paul Steel writes all these tunes himself and can sometimes be seen playing solo, so like Bowie and Weller it's fair enough really. There is also a link with Bowie in Pauls fixation on space, 'Ray Gun' is an excellent song and clearly a crowd favorite because as soon as it starts it evokes the biggest cheer of the night. It's a glorious song about childhood imagination, 'My multifunctional battery powered ray gun'. Have we not all dreamed of having one of those just for one day? The song 'Moon Rock' has a Bowiesque sense of space adventure and works well into a set which has a new psychedelic quality that takes you away from the real world long enough to appreciate the sillier things in life.

By the end of the show everyone has a daft grin on their face and the band are given a great applause the stage is then stormed and the band and friends give the crowd their final and newest tune 'Honkin' On My Crackpipe'. This is a song from Paul's new symphonic collection entitled 'April and I' and again it's mischievous fun. The tune like the Super Furry Animals 'Man Don't Give A Fuck' is a great showstopper and one I think Paul will find hard not to finish on in future. There are many great bands emerging from Brighton and Hove, tonight's gig is a reminder that we have a great pool of talent in this city, long may it continue.

Words: Neil McLennan
Photos: Justin Evans
More Paul Steel photos at Pressure Point, Brighton, 27 September 2006

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