The 2004 Christmas show, Hammersmith ApolloTuesday 21st December 2004. Photos and review by Emma Bedford.
Well, I'd been looking forward to this gig for months and was really nervous about it. It had all the makings of a special night, being right before Christmas, the first and only Starsailor gig in a while, new material to play and lots of fellow fans to meet. Lots of expectation and lots of potential to for things to go wrong!
A group of regulars from the message board had arranged to meet up in a pub near the venue and I was terrified no-one would show. They did! There were a dozen of us in the end and we found a few more at the venue. One of the things I love about music is the way it draws people together. That sense of community and commonality is one of the reasons that Starsailor are so special to me.
Once we were in the venue we cornered the front left of the stage (perfect for Stel and Ben watching!) and took turns to guard our patch. It was the most packed I've experienced at the front and it got a bit much for me so I wandered off during the support acts. Both Countermine and 13 Senses were very good although the latter seemed to go down better with the crowd. Perhaps people recognised their singles. I was listening from the back and watching the crowd grow by the minute. Everyone seemed in very high Christmas spirits!
I worked my way back to the front in time for the entrance to Shark Food and was shaking with excitement (or was that a sugar rush from Sandra's chocolate?!) There was a huge surge of noise and the boys began. The first few songs are a bit blurred in my brain, I don't really remember anything until a few tracks in when James started to thank everyone for coming. He said that people had travelled a long way and then went on to name check Morgan, Lambchop, Anita and Lou from our little group. It was so amazing to have out little band acknowledged that it didn't matter that I wasn't one of them. It felt like I was. It was a very touching moment, indicative of the band's humility. The next song, an acoustic new one was then dedicated to us. When I hear it on record it will remind me of that moment which already has a special place in my heart.
More songs followed and this is again a blur of excitement and lost memory. Sorry.
Then came the opening bars of All Or Nothing. I went mental. This cover of the Small Faces classic is one of my favourites and I thought I would never hear it played live. Either Ben or James went a bit wrong and they had to begin again. They could have played it all night for me. It's full on rock and roll with Ben drumming like a man possessed. Definitely a highlight of all the 8 Starsailor gigs I have been to.
In My Blood sounded even better this time round and I can't wait to hear it on the new album (surely it will find a home there). It's heavy and full of bass that sort of thunders through you. Mr Stelfox is on fire during it. During the encore later there was another new track that also had a heavier sound, so I am really looking forward to the new album. James said they would release it before September if it killed him and that it would be a record Bono would have to take notice of. As one of the world's biggest U2 fans I am hoping he is right! If you could swing it to be the support act on the forthcoming U2 tour I'd be even happier. Well, a girl can dream.
Love is Here sounded even more beautiful and haunting than ever for some reason. I was moved to hold hands with everyone around me as if to try to "hold on to what you’ve got." Good Souls was the best I have ever experienced it. I turned around to watch all the faces behind me and it was pure magic, one of the best gig moments of my life. It's right up there with U2 in 1993. It was like being embraced by music in a communal hug with thousands of others. Barry was smiling broadly whilst playing it so you know it was good! I was moved to tears.
Silence Is Easy nearly had the roof off as everyone exploded like Chinese firecrackers. It was a superb way to end.
The only things missing were Born Again (which live at the Brixton Academy is another special memory) and a Christmas cover, next year perhaps boys?!
I'm usually lost in my own world at gigs, just letting the music flow through me. I feel music rather than hear it on both an emotional level and a physical one. This atmosphere was different, I felt connected to the people around me and as if I was sharing it for the first time.
It wasn't the best I have ever heard them play but for sheer emotion it will be hard to top. Thank you to the Good Souls, you know who you are. Life really wouldn’t matter without you.
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