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Delicate Steve at Velvet Jones

New Jersey Band Lights Up the Santa Barbara Club

A sleepy Sunday came alive at the Velvet Jones with an electric performance by New Jersey native Steve Marion, who performs under the moniker of Delicate Steve. Crystallized bursts of Afro-pop and subdued psychedelic rhythms flourished against a colorful palate of classical tonalities that fluctuated between genres that breached everything from Indian classical music to classic rock riffs.

A concentrated blend of linear composition met sweetened pitches that bloomed intermittently throughout numbers like “Sugar Splash” and “Wally Wilder,” which reflect Marion’s eclectic tastes and organic approach to music making.

Having recorded Positive Force in his bedroom, Marion is equally invested in the recording process as he is in songwriting. Tall and lean, he donned a simple gray wife-beater and some ripped jeans, as he played favorites like “Ramona Reborn” and “Two Lovers.” A tangible, almost hypnotic energy could be felt between members of the band as Marion’s carefully constructed melodies came to life in bright colors, exploding periodically in comets of notes.

Using a slide and effects on his guitar as he tore through tracks off his two albums– Positive Force and Wondervisions, Delicate Steve played to an unfortunately stale crowd, who danced little and seemed unnaturally timid. It was a stark contrast to the magic that was occurring on stage, which was lit up with miniature lights resembling the New York City skyline.

Toward the end of the set, Delicate Steve played a powerful rendition of The Who’s “My Generation,” one of many dazzling moments of the evening. There is an honest and raw vulnerability to Marion when he performs, as if the moment he picks up the guitar he becomes enveloped in a world of his own. His innovative use of non-traditional chord structures creates sounds that feel like they are emerging from the depths of his soul.

Delicate Steve will be continuing their tour in San Francisco and then heads to the East Coast.

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