Starsailor : London Brixton Academy

...not the toothless indie boys so many once took them for...

Here at NME, we like our rock stars dysfunctional, booze-addled, and - should the notion take them - partial to the odd cheeky line of ants. Starsailor, as everyone knows, are none of those things. However, if there’s one thing that’ll toughen a band up, it’s working with renowned nutter and occasional genius producer Phil Spector. What takes more balls though, is firing the mad old bastard. Clearly Starsailor are not the toothless indie boys so many once took them for…

Their entrance makes this clear. Where once, the Wigan foursome shuffled onstage metaphorically wiping their noses on their sleeves, tonight there's a massive cloud of smoke and a repeating tape-loop of newie ‘Shark Food’ playing eerily in the distance, before the song explodes into life. It’s an ominous start – "If we get it wrong/they’ll feed us to the sharks" they fume, knowing full well what the stakes are now raised to, yet confident that they’re still in the game. Starsailor are defying expectations not through transparent posing, or tiresome cliché - they’re simply writing brilliant songs. Those who rage against bedroom symphonies like ‘Alcoholic’ probably haven’t heard the brilliant, downright funky ‘Four To The Floor’, or the majestic urban hymn of ‘Born Again’. Their tunnel vision is such that they probably never will, but that’s their problem.

When James re-emerges for a heaving encore of ‘Good Souls’ that’s almost Zeppelin-fied with distortion, he’s soaked in sweat, just like the proper rock star everyone says he’s not. He then proceeds to scream his larynx off, just unlike the faker everyone says he is. Tonight, Starsailor provide irrefutable evidence that authenticity isn’t always a needle hanging out of your arse. The bastards.

Barry Nicolson

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