Steven Van Zandt. Picture: Supplied

Steven Van Zandt is finally the boss. The 63-year-old has faithfully played alongside Bruce Springsteen as the E Street Band's guitarist since the 1970s and played Silvio Dante, consigliere to mob boss Tony Soprano, in the groundbreaking HBO series The Sopranos from 1999-2007.

But Van Zandt takes charge in Lilyhammer. The fish-out-of-water comedy series sees Van Zandt don a pompadour not dissimilar to Silvio's as Frank Tagliano, a New York mafioso hiding out in the Norwegian town of Lillehammer, juggling fatherhood and his criminal operation.

Chatting backstage at Perth Arena before the second of three sold-out shows with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Van Zandt says that Tagliano is more Tony Soprano than Silvio Dante (who finished the acclaimed show in a coma after being shot).

"He's more flamboyant, he's more outgoing - he really is a boss," the guitarist says. "For those Sopranos people who really miss it, I tell 'em 'Just pretend that Silvio came out of the coma and went into a witness protection program'."

The second series airing on SBS features Tagliano's brash American style rubbing up against the civilised Scandinavian customs. Throw in English gangsters, naive police, African refugees and the peccadillos of the sexually liberated Norwegians and you've got wonderfully offbeat viewing.

Lilyhammer is a huge hit in Norway.A fifth of the population watched the premiere episode in 2012 and it has been sold to 130 countries.

Shooting for the third series began last month, but was put on hold so that Van Zandt could tour with the Boss.

The star, writer and producer is also the music supervisor. Van Zandt's fingerprints are all over the soundtrack - tomorrow night's episode opens with the Springsteen classic Born to Run.

Even when touring or filming, Van Zandt still makes his two-hour weekly radio show, Little Steven's Underground Garage, which is syndicated to more than 200 FM stations in the US as well as to Finland, Spain and other countries.

Van Zandt, who is determined to launch the show in Australia, started Underground Garage in 2002 to revive rock'n'roll. He plays a "pretty wide umbrella" of music, ranging from pioneers such as Little Richard and Bo Diddley right up to garage rock bands of today.

Most notably, he has spun plenty of records from WA acts, including the Chevelles, the Flairz and Dom Mariani's bands, the Stems and DM3.

Fremantle-based power-pop stalwart Mariani took Van Zandt out bar-hopping in Perth. The legend says that retro bars Deville's Pad and Hula Bula Bar were right up his E Street.

"Deville's Pad was great," Van Zandt laughs. "It looks like my office."

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

Follow Us

More from The West