In preparation for the NME Carling Awards tour, the possible Best New Windswept Indie Rock Band In Britain rock the last toilet venue they'll ever play...

Almost a year ago to the day, the Roadhouse had a similar buzz about it. Bloated to the rafters with more sweat than is necessary to witness two bands who, in their own way, were both uniquely terrible. Looking back, the variable fortunes of Terris and Coldplay might be seen as a dry run for Starsailor. Because if tonight's warm-up for the nationwide tour proved anything, it's that the imminent rise of this band is indisputable.

There's a bewilderment and sense of collective smugness in actually being here that shrouds one very important fact. Most of the people here tonight haven't heard a note of Starsailor's music before. The surety with which they're left gobsmacked is the northwesterners' trump card.

Everything from the instant poetry of James Walsh's lyrics, to the instant karma of his soaring choirboy voice, to the timeless nature of their perfectly sculpted melodies convinces you that you know these songs already. Paul McCartney once said a similar thing after 'Yesterday' came to him in a dream. Starsailor are that good.

'Alchoholic' (admittedly muted tonight) recalls Dylan, 'Lullaby' could be 'Kum-ba-yah' rewritten for a chamber choir, while 'Good Day Of The Weekend' is The Verve minus the astral nonsense. The word 'indie' could not be more offensive under the circumstances. And despite Walsh's inexperience as a showman or the occasional overwrought nature of the sentiment, all Starsailor had to prove tonight was that they are special, and that they did. There's a very real chance that they will never darken the doorway of a venue this small ever again.

Daniel Martin

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