Starsailor : Manchester University

...the electricity generated by things to come is almost as overpowering as Starsailor's songs...

The next time [a]Starsailor[/a] come to Manchester, things will be somewhat different. Their debut album ‘Love Is Here’ will be in the shops, and every track performed here this evening will not just be a great song, but a lager-spilling, life-affirming anthem.

This trio of club shows, augmented by a summer of festival appearances, are significant in that they are likely to be the last where [a]Starsailor[/a] will be forced to prove themselves to an audience unfamiliar with their music. For now, people are here to be impressed, not necessarily to enjoy themselves.

Ironically, [a]Starsailor[/a] are enjoying themselves more then ever. If they were approaching the finished product when NME first stumbled across them in a London pub late last year, the following six months has metamorphosed them into a self-assured, classic sounding rock band.

James Walsh, who 12 months ago had the look of a hapless child, is starting to get the hang of being a frontman. His band have created a live show suitable for stadiums.

You can see it already in ‘Fever’ and ‘Good Souls’ – two singles that have made more of a mark on people’s conscience than they did on the singles charts. ‘Good Souls’ in particular, played this evening as a thrilling climax, sees every rock cliché shamelessly played out.

The nods to Tim Buckley are obvious throughout and occasionally unnecessary. A giant image of ‘Starsailor’ period Buckley is temporarily projected behind the stage and looks naff, but Walsh compensates by juxtaposing a raw solo version of his own ‘Coming Down’ with a stunning run-through of [a]Jeff Buckley[/a]’s ‘Eternal Life’. It could have been painful, but his own song sounds as good, if not better than his hero’s. It’s brilliant.

So, for six more weeks at least, public adoration is substituted for an eerie, muted respect. But the electricity generated by things to come is almost as overpowering as [a]Starsailor[/a]’s songs.

Julian Marshall