Good Souls; the Starsailor archive for fans.

Starsailor acoustic at Jabez Clegg in Manchester

Photos and introduction by Boo and gig report by Mr Boo

 [The gig was part of XFM Manchester's Access All April series.]   Starsailor played a private and exclusive gig at Jabez Clegg in Manchester on Tuesday 25th April - tickets couldn't be bought, only won through new Manchester radio station 97.7FM XFM Manchester, the bands' web sites and through sponsors.

The Access All April event involved several bands playing venues around the Manchester area throughout April, from Embrace, The Zutons, Charlatans to Feeder and Goldfrapp - through a variety of venues, large and small - some very small! Starsailor were supported by The Weight.

I've been extremely fortunate in my capacity as official minder/chauffeur to Boo to see Starsailor perform in many different venues, from a small pub in Wigan to the biggest of festival venues, and indeed at Jabez Clegg last October, and whilst I can genuinely say that I have enjoyed every single performance, I was particularly impressed at last night's gig for XFM Manchester.

Some of you readers may be aware that I gave Boo more than a bit of a fright last November by suffering a very sudden and very life threatening illness. As a result, last night at Jabez Clegg was the first time I have been out socially in six months - the last time funnily enough was seeing Starsailor performing in Sheffield just a few days before I fell ill!

James worked with an acoustic guitar all evening.  Although James never picked up an electic guitar all evening, Stel had his electric bass, Richard an electric guitar and Barry a couple of electric keyboards. Ben (“I thought an ‘acoustic’ set meant they weren't going to need me, so I could have sneaked off to the Flaming Lips gig instead”) was the only member of the band with obviously less equipment than normal, so perhaps the term 'acoustic' for the performance was not really accurate, more of a 'stripped down' performance - as James announced to the crowd early on.

There's just nowhere to hide behind a harmonica.  Before we go any further - for the record and for those of you with 'double-entendre syndrome', I am not interested in the size of Ben's equipment or the rest of the lads being 'stripped down'!

That all said, I just wonder what crazy mental images have now formed in the minds of some of you dear readers at the thought of a 'stripped down' performance - perhaps some wierd singing version of the Full Monty - alright perhaps for most of the lads able to hide their modesties behind their respective guitars, drums and keyboards, but I shudder at the thought of what Richard could have done whilst performing Lullaby with just a harmonica and a mic stand!

Anyway I digress as is usual in any review I get involved in writing. 'Acoustic' or 'stripped down' the performance was probably the best I have had the privilege of attending.

The Starsailor performance started with XFM DJ Paul Tonkinson sqeezing onto the stage past Barry's organ (steady ladies!) to introduce the band.

The crowd enthusiastically greeted the band.  James then took to the stage at first on his own to do a solo performance of Counterfeit Life which was going great until technical problems with his guitar resulted in the line “oh f**k it!” being added to the lyrics and the song coming to a swift end. The audience didn't seem to mind however and cheered with great enthusiasm.

The cheering was supposed to be the cue for Barry to take to the stage, which he did - just to then have to sit through a second, and this time complete, solo performance of Counterfeit Life, with a different guitar.

James belts out Alcoholic accompanied by just Barry and the audience.  Barry then provided the musical accompaniment, or as James put it, ‘the tinkling’, for Alcoholic - just the best performance that I've heard of this Starsailor classic.

The rest of the band then joined Barry and James on stage and the gig really took off from there.

In amongst the performances of their own songs, as fans of the band might guess, there were snippets of songs added into the evening's performance, amongst which were Oasis's Some Might Say and the Stone Roses' I am the Ressurection. In performing these ‘Manchester classics’ James proudly stated that “all music from Manchester was great” - long pause - “of course, with the exception of Simply Red!”

The prize for the worst rendition of a request on the night was awarded for Push the Button, as James said he could not remember more than a couple of bars. The best impromptu moment was given to the lads for their brilliant techno rendition, and as James advised us “number one in France you know” of Four To The Floor, which was followed up by the more familiar, but stripped down (i.e. musically, not dress-wise) version of it.

In summary:

  • The Venue: I really like Jabez Clegg as a venue - it's a real in-your-face sort of place and whilst it can't cater for the tens of thousands of people who I was privileged to be alongside at the Isle of Wight Festival last year, the venue does not lack anything for this. As they say, it's not how big it is - it's what you do with it that counts!
  • The Audience: Everyone seemed well up for a good night - and they got it.
  • The Music: A really accomlished performance - slightly disorganised in places, but all the happier for it - and as James said; all available on CD at bargain prices from your local supermarket!
  • Actual Stripping Down: James took his coat off at one point and even Stel had abandoned his jacket and scarf by the encore!

  • Please click the photographs to see a larger view and use your browser's back button to return to this page. I apologise unreservedly for there not being any photos of Barry and very few showing Ben, their efforts to hide from me were successful this time.

    Oh no, the shirt's not coming off is it?   Those dimples really do need licensing as a dangerous weapon.  Stel decided to play safe when he heard about stripping down. We already know you're there, so you can't sneak off to the Flaming Lips. Mr Richard 'Echoboy' Warren guests again on guitar. I said you couldn't sneak off to the Flaming Lips Mr Byrne! You couldn't resits a bit of stripping down in the end. Caught between two cameras. All Manchester music is great.  Well, except Simply Red.  Mr James 'Stel' Stelfox.  I'm sure it wasn't that cold in there. This was No. 1 in France you know! Richard helps create a 'techno' sound.  James tested to see if the audience knew the words to 'Silence Is Easy'. Les setting up the guitars before the gig - it wasn't much of a set though. Richard Warren expands Starsailor's sound once more.  You're nowhere near as good at hiding as Mr Westhead, he's really perfected the technique.  Richard 'Echoboy' Warren. Stelfox; a man so cool, he has to wear a scarf! James concentrates. The dynamic duo! Stel. Stel thinks no one can see him.  Is that a halo on the angelic Mr Stelfox? James always delivers his vocals with great passion. James sets things off with a solo acoustic. James abandons the guitar for Alcoholic.  If I'm quick, I can catch one of his fabulous smiles. This one's for everyone here from Chorley.  The lads always put their soul into every performance. Richard really adds to the band's sound.  They seek him here, they seek him there . . . that damned elusive Westhead.

    Support was provided by The Weight:

    The Weight, please click for a larger view.  The Weight, please click for a larger view.  The Weight, please click for a larger view.  The Weight, please click for a larger view.  The Weight, please click for a larger view.

    © Boo and Mr. Boo. 2006. All rights reserved.

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