Starsailor - Jabez Clegg (Manchester) - 4.10.05

Designer Magazine first met Starsailor prior to the time when the hype machine of the NME Tour kicked in and they were touted at the next Coldplay. At the time they were playing the Manchester Roadhouse as support to local Lancashire all girl punk band Angelica and since that moment they've never been back to a venue so small and intimate. Here at Jabez Clegg, a venue which 12 months ago saw another low-key show by none other than Pete Doherty who managed to incite a stage invasion which nearly saw 8ft speaker stack tumbling into half the crowd, Starsailor have chosen to launch their new album to friends, family and those lucky few who managed to snap up tickets within minutes of them going on sale.

While last time they were flanked up on guitar by a Charlatan, this time they've been joined by Richard Warren of kraftwerk experimentalists Echoboy, but don't expect James Walsh to unleash this 3rd album as an experimental masterpiece. "On The Outside" is much the same as we've heard from the band previously except this time they've pumped roids into it and given it a bit of balls where previously they were left struggling under the empty silence.

"Way Back Home" sounds like the Charlatans produced by the Chemical Brothers with Block Rockin Beats in mind. A prominent bass line looks round while layer upon layer of hammond organ build it up to a crescendo. On the other hand "This Time" is a natural successor to "Poor Misguided Fool" as they're most straightforward radio hit and it's a clear contender for the bands next single. "Counterfeit Life" sounds like every single Charlatans song rolled into one from and it wasn't for James Walsh's vocals it could be mistaken for a lost song from the Northwich massive. "In My Blood" is build around a simple rolling piano melody with a stop star rhythm section.

"It's the first time we've played in Jabez....although it's not the first time some of us have been p*ssed in Jabez pulling dodgy birds" announces Walsh half way through the set which also dips into a few old favourites such as ""Alcoholic", "Fever", "Four To The Floor" and "Good Souls". After leaving the stage, they return for an encore of the bands new single "In The Crossfire". It's the first time live and on record that Walsh has really let it rip lascerating his vocals rather than the more mannered vocals of earlier releases.

"On The Outside" is an album that will appeal to the hardcore Starsailor fans and while it's not as instantaneous as their previous 2 album is a joy once it seeps in. For those not lucky enough to see the band in these intimate surroundings, the band play the Manchester Apollo in November

Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride

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