Charity fundraiser at Parr Hall, WarringtonFriday 13th December 2002. Report and photographs by 'Boo
The mid December Starsailor gig at Parr Hall in Warrington, was variously billed as a Christmas party, homecoming gig and a charity fundraiser. It was all three, so whatever you chose to call it, the evening promised to be a very special occasion; Starsailor's first live date for over three months and their first since recording the bulk of their hotly anticipated second album at Abbey Road Studios in London, under the watchful production of Phil Spector.
The location of this charity Christmas benefit was not by accident, with bass player James 'Stel' Stelfox and drummer Ben Byrne hailing from Warrington and it being a suitable location for all their family and friends to be in attendance, to help them close off and celebrate what a fabulous year for Starsailor that 2002 had proven to be.
The charities to benefit from the full admission price (including the same contribution from all guests) were Christie Hospital in Manchester, a specialist cancer treatment hospital, Making Space, a mental health charity based in Warrington and The National Deaf Children’s Society, dedicated to offering support to deaf children, young people and their families.
Parr Hall proved to be a hard place to find and Warrington a town sorely in need of some road signage. A lengthy wait outside in the cold did nothing to dampen the spirits of the eager crowd waiting to see the show and a little later than scheduled, we were let in to take our places. The hall, with an upper balcony for those wanting an elevated view soon filled and the anticipation of the crowd heightened progressively as the road crew tested the gear and got the stage ready, to the accompaniment of the SoulSavers DJ set that entertained before Starsailor took the stage.
The lights lowered and the SoulSavers mix of Poor Misguided Fool whipped an already eager crowd to a level of great excitement. Starsailor took the stage to thundering applause and opened their set with a brand new song from the forthcoming album, the first ever live airing of Music Was Saved.
The second track, their fifth hit single; Poor Misguided Fool was loudly accompanied by the audience and drew comments from James as to the quality for their performance. Starsailor were obviously happy to be back on home turf and James was keen for everyone to “make this the best night of our lives”.
Fever followed and made way for two other brand new first airings of Bring My Love and 4 to the Floor. James told the crowd how he had become a father that year and he was keen that his daughter's first Christmas shouldn't be marred by an unsuitable song topping the charts. He cheerfully encouraged record buyers not to buy the current Pop Stars releases and if any of us went into record stores and saw people on their way to the till with copies, we had to wrestle them off them and dissuade them from buying them with; “don't buy this, it's shite”.
Live set classics Alcoholic and Love is Here took us to Poor Misguided Fool B side Born Again and an enthusiastic rendition of their hit this time last year; Lullaby.
A previously unreleased track that often made it into the summer festival set list; Some of Us was followed by a song that rarely fails to raise the neck hairs (the proverbial neck Mohican) when performed live; Tie Up My Hands. The song with the lyrics that sound to have been written by James from the direct pain experienced of being under the media spotlight since he hit the big time; Silence is Easy brought the initial set to a close. A short break saw James return to the stage to do a solo acoustic montage which included I Am The Resurrection, Coming Down, Grandma's Hands, Where the Streets Have No Name and The One I Love.
After James's acoustic session, a guest appeared on the stage to perhaps the loudest applause of the night, Bolton comedian Peter Kay. As the event was primarily to raise money for the three selected charities, Peter's function was presumably to thank the audience for their support, which he delivered as only Peter Kay could, with eye streaming, rib achingly funny humour, watched from the side of the stage by Starsailor, beers in hand.
He then welcomed Starsailor back onto the stage to finish their set and said he'd always wanted to play with them, had anyone a tambourine or such he could join in with, so Ben disattached his tambourine and passed it over and Peter became an enthusiastic fifth band member, to the obvious delight of the original line up of Starsailor and audience alike. Somewhere along the line the tambourine became lost (perhaps due to the enthusiastic throwing of it between himself and Stel), so Stel appeared with a maraca for him instead.
Their last two songs were appropriately rip-roaring renditions of their contribution to the War Child 1 Love album All or Nothing and their best know hit to date Good Souls. By now the crowd were in a total frenzy and James declared that we really had been the best crowd ever and that they had enjoyed it as much as we had. I sincerely hope so.
As a post script to the gig, Starsailor posted this on their message board:
Please click the photographs to see a larger view and use your browser's back button to return to this page. Please see the further Parr Hall photos on page 2.
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