You know how sometimes you'll be watching a truly horrible movie, and even though you know it's awful, you find yourself really enjoying it? That's how it felt Friday when Steven Seagal (who's made his share of bad movies) played a concert at the Big Easy.
Following an acoustic set from Scottish balladeer JJ Gilmour, who was likable and personable if not particularly memorable, Seagal's band Thunderbox took the stage. A surprisingly solid, capable combo, Thunderbox started with a funky, blues-based jam that was pretty good. At that point, things seemed hopeful.
Then Seagal stepped on stage and things got weird. It wasn't just the surreal spectacle of an out-of-shape, middle-aged former movie star attempting to reinvent himself, nor was it the audience's truly mixed reaction to what they were seeing. It was everything, every strange detail making it the strangest concert I have ever seen.
It was the crowd, mainly middle-aged adults who were polite if not enthusiastic. It was the funny, yet sad fact that there wasn't much of a turnout (no doubt due in part to the World Wrestling Entertainment event downtown the same night, splitting Seagal's core audience). It was the couple sitting in the upstairs balcony making out pretty hot and heavy, as if Seagal's musical stylings were an overpowering aphrodisiac.
More than anything, though, it was Seagal himself. From the awkward way he held and strummed his guitar (I don't want to be rude, but his gut made it tough to hold it in the typical way) to the fact that he was playing the blues on a flying V model guitar (maybe that's not necessarily wrong, but it sure did look funny) to the disturbing interplay between himself and the female backup singer (at various times he seemed to be either checking her out from behind her, or stalking her all over the stage) to the way his trademark raspy mumbling voice sounded exactly the same when he "sang" (and that's not a good thing) to the simple fact that he seemed to be taking it all so seriously, you couldn't take your eyes off of him.
In a word, it was great. It wasn't any good, of course, but in that bad movie kind of way, it was amazing. Although I don't think Seagal's music is going to change the world the way he seems to think it will, it certainly brightened my day.
Hell, I hope he comes back.