“If it wasn’t for the good souls, life would not matter,” cries James Walsh over the courtyard of Somerset House, as tonight’s set drew to a close – and how right he is. Starsailor have never been the most rock ‘n’ roll band, in the sense that they honour all their live commitments, aren’t ravaged by crack addiction and produce music that is not controversial and accessible to all. But to dismiss them as a dull, poor man’s Coldplay would be doing them a gross injustice, not to mention yourself.
The fact remains that they are a hard working, honest group of musicians that have produced two fine albums to date, which have both spawned a handful of great singles over the last few years – tracks that are all emotive, life affirming and all importantly, hugely memorable.
As Walsh so valiantly sings, the world is indeed a better place with bands like his around – don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a dash of Pete Doherty and his kind as much as the next man – but it’s always comforting to know there’s something consistent and reliable lurking in the shadows.
What’s more, their live show has always been a selling point of theirs. Walsh’s distinctive tones get the forum that they fully deserve, and their more melancholic moments are often beefed up, sounding a lot rockier than on record. All this was certainly in evidence on this fine summer’s evening, as Chorley’s most famous sons emerged on stage at 9:30pm sharp and burst directly into a revved up version of Poor Misguided Fool.
The set was essentially a 90-minute greatest hits showcase – all the highlights from Love Is Here and Silence Is Easy got an airing, which included impressive, sing along inducing versions of Alcoholic, Fever and the two album title tracks.
This was fair enough, but what of the long awaited new LP? We assume it’s planned for release before too long – at their pre-Christmas gig at the Hammersmith Apollo, Walsh claimed it would be “out before September if it killed him”. There was no explicit mention of the subject this evening, however, possibly suggesting that they’ve fallen slightly behind schedule.
Nevertheless, four new songs were showcased – In The Crossfire, Way Back Home, In My Blood and Counterfeit – all were noticeably more upbeat and disco friendly than their early output, in the same vein as the relatively heavier moments on their last album such as Four To The Floor. This is great news; they’ve trodden the Buckley road with fantastic results in the past, so it’s exciting to see them trying something a bit different and succeeding.
An acoustic cover of London Calling was slipped in along the way, with Walsh forgetting the words and completing the song with the aid of a lyrics sheet and an enthusiastic, cheering audience. It is perhaps the latter that is significant here.
Four years into their career, Starsailor are a clearly a band with a solid, devoted fan base that will applaud their every move, and will also ensure that headline performances in the capital are almost always sold out. They have a fun, entertaining live show to boast as well – this cannot be questioned, whatever cynics may say and however unfashionable they may be. Let’s just hope their next album is the masterpiece that they’ve been promising for so long – then we’ll all have to start paying attention.