The Silence Is Easy UK tour 2003; ManchesterManchester Apollo, Saturday 20th September 2003, the second date on their UK tour to promote Silence is Easy. Report and photos by Boo. See also Leeds UU.
Starsailor's hotly anticipated second studio album Silence is Easy was released on 15th September 2003 and after a few days of feverish media activity to launch the album to the waiting world, the band hit the road to show their fans what they could do with the new material in a live environment, with an 11 date UK tour, before heading into mainland Europe.
The Manchester Apollo was the second date of their whirlwind trip from Glasgow to Southampton and saw them more or less on home turf, their most recent north west date being several months previously at the Parr Hall in Warrington, a charity homecoming featuring Bolton comedian Peter Kay.
The Apollo theatre didn't look as though it could possibly hold any more people, the sloped standing area in front of the stage was crammed solid and every seat in the circle was occupied and gave support band Hal a pretty good reception, on what was one of the biggest nights of their lives.
The lowering of the lights and build up to Starsailor's set seemed to last an eternity for the Starsailor-hungry fans. Anticipation built as the traditional Soulsavers instrumental of Good Souls made way for a lowering of the stage lights, an increase in smoke and the opening strains of the recorded version of new album track Shark Food. A huge roar from the front of the crowd indicated that something largely unseen was happening and light flooded the stage as Starsailor took over a live rendition of the song.
The set continued with a blistering rendition of Silence Is Easy opening track Music Was Saved and James thanked the crowd for their reception and asked for the house lights to be raised so that he could take their photo from the stage.
Love is Here classics Alcoholic and Poor Misguided Fool followed and got the loudly accompanied reception you'd expect from long-standing hits. James then took the opportunity to introduce the fifth honorary member of Starsailor on stage; Mr. Mark Collins, anecdotally revealing that his first trip to the Manchester Apollo had been to see The Charlatans, in the days when he had to get there by public transport as he was skint and had to run for the last train home. Now it was an honour to be accompanied on stage by their guitarist.
The set continued in an even mix of old songs and new Silence is Easy tracks, all eaten up enthusiastically by the Manchester crowd. At one point James dedicated a song "to all the northerners in the crowd", then realised the ridiculousness of the statement in Manchester and added "I guess that's all of you then." Fidelity led to Lullaby, Telling Them to Love is Here.
The sound was fantastic; confident and accomplished, the stunning visuals keeping apace. As an introduction to Love is Here, James looked back in time to when they first put together a demo with Barry and hawked it around interested parties - one particular fool, not blessed with knowing a good thing when he heard it, said it had no future and actually handed back the demo - "you should have kept it mate, it might now be worth millions". He dedicated the track to all up and coming bands finding themselves in that position and wished them luck.
The opening bars of Love Is Here saw the fabric backdrops fall to the floor and reveal illuminated panels that were to change their colourful display as the set continued. The track that is no doubt a future hit in waiting; the storming Four to the Floor was introduced as Starsailor's attempt at an indie dance anthem, referencing the status of a track James has delivered acoustically on previous occasions; 'I Am The Resurrection' as their motivation. He suggested people should find whatever space they could and give it their best shot at dancing along. Manchester duly obliged.
They didn't just deliver Starsailor originals, James tipped the nod to U2 in an acoustic of their hit Where The Streets Have No Name and he played an appropriate and timely tribute to the late Johnny Cash with a lone vocal of Ring Of Fire, James paying his respects for the man who carried on doing it for 50 years, regardless of fashion, just for "people like you".
James took on the pose of an evangelical preacher as Starsailor gave life to a track given a new treatment on the new album Born Again, standing at the front of the curved stage, arms aloft, microphone in hand. Tie Up My Hands has always been a live favourite and the five strong version from a band on particularly fine form was as powerful as ever and took the band to their current title track hit, for which James thanked those that made it so and appealed for people to buy the album and push The Darkness off the top spot, "give it up lads, you've been there long enough, it's our turn now".
Starsailor left the stage in no doubt that their rapidly maturing live performance skills had hit the spot tonight and we waited with increasing impatience for them return and give us some more - no one felt inclined to leave until they'd heard Good Souls.
It's perhaps just as well that they did return, there might have been damage done if they'd not delivered what everyone was hooting and stamping for, starting with Some of Us and closing with a suitably blistering and extended rendition of defining track Good Souls. Now we could go home.
Please click the photographs to see a larger view and use your browser's back button to return to this page. There are also photos of one of Starsailor's support bands on the tour; Hal.
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