This was the first night of a set of NME showcase gigs, and, Dear God, did NME show that they have lost it.

I had only come here really to hear, what NME described, as the so called "brilliant new songs" by Starsailor, but, to start, we heard some fine music by newcomers, Hope of the States,who dress in US black civil war jackets, in a similar style to Brighton's British Sea Power. Hope of the States were a six piece with three guitar players, a keyboardist, a violin player and a drummer. Their vocalist was okay, but musically they really knew how to rock out with sonic soundscapes that sounded like an updated version of my beloved Slowdive.

Next up was the first of two three pieces. The 22-20's impressed Starsailor's frontman James Walsh, but not me. They played very primitive Stooges style rock 'n' roll, which was at times sluggish,and at times a bit countryish. While they were lyrically better than the Stooges, they were too often just loud without there being much in there for my ears.

After that New York's Nada Surf were next on stage. They record for Heavenly records, and thought they could really rock out, but really apart from Matthew Caw's Bono style vocals, they were musically very safe and didn't challenge the senses at all. They were well received, but most of tonight's crowd were of the type that probably only ever go to gigs if the writers at NME say that they are good. Poor bastards !

So on to the night's headliners, Starsailor...

It's been a while since they graced a London stage, but they still have a huge following. I like them, but they do get a lot of stick. If you couldn't afford their T-shirts inside, there was plenty of cheaper bootleg versions outside, and in about 20 different styles.

The set was kicked off by into tape of two songs performed by guess who ?.... Starsailor, which was very strange. Over an 85 minute set we got five new songs, of which only one, sorry guys, was great, and three covers, each of which, however, were fantastic.

'Love is Here', their album, is to me simply a tribute album to Tim Buckley. It was only when James came back on for the first encore to give us a heartbreaking medley, consisting of Neil Young's 'The Needle and the Damage Done' ; the band's own 'Lullaby' and U2's 'Where the Streets Have No Name',that my faith in the band was restored. The rest of the band then came on with James for a second encore, in which they played the Small Faces 'All or Nothing' (which they also covered on NME's recent Christmas charity album), before delivering their one and only truly great song, their anthem 'Good Souls'. I can't see them writing a song in skill that will ever surpass it, and they played an absolutely killer version of it.

A good band, but please though work harder at your art, guys !

Starsailor Main Set

Music Was Saved
Poor Misguided Fool
Telling Them
4 to the Floor
Love is Here
Born Again
Tie Up My Hands
Silence is Easy

James's Solo Acoustic Set

The Needle and the Damaage
Where the Streets Have No Name

Final Encore

All or Nothing
Good Souls

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Commenting On: London Astoria, 4/2/2003 - Starsailor

ie London, England

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