Live Review: Starsailor – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 08.04.24

I’ll be honest, it’s been a long time since I’d thought about Starsailor. They’d briefly punctuated the beginning of my working life in the early 2000s, but then had faded into the background.

Not so for the completely packed out Brudenell crowd, bursting at the seams with 400 devoted fans. The band had continued to make music on and off over the years, but now they’re back with their 6th studio album, Where The Wild Things Grow. Anticipation of something new is high of course, but there’s a nostalgic mood in the room too. Reminiscence of Starsailor gigs past, super fans regale (mostly) willing listeners with facts and stories. There are tour shirts, new and vintage, sprinkled around the iconic venue.

It’s busy from the outset, and those who were there early were treated to a truly excellent acoustic set from Andrew Cushin. Having played some big support slots last year, and lined up for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds this summer, he has the air of an artist on the cusp of something great. Cushin is a beautifully honest songwriter, and has an innate ability to draw a crowd in. He’s great with his full band, but to hear him stripped right back with just his monogrammed acoustic guitar was brilliant. You could hear a pin drop through intensely personal songs like 4.5% and Standing By My Side. and Standing By My Side. The kind of moments where there’s a collective breath before applause and cheers ring out. He’s on tour later this year with the full band – don’t miss him.

Bands love this venue, and it’s evident as soon as Starsailor climb the 3 or 4 steps to the stage. James Walsh, sporting a Choose Love Katharine Hamnet style t-shirt, acknowledges the crowd with a modest smile before the band kick off with Into The Wild, from the new record. 

Between songs, there’s some banter about the band’s headier days. Recalling previous shows in Leeds, someone shouts out about Walsh’s longer haired days. “Grow it again”, they shout. “I can’t,” he replies, “I was in my 20s then. I’m in my 40s now”

The sound is strong and rich. The guitars are full, with the occasional cascading solo, particularly in Lullaby. Barry Westhead on keys adds layers that give a beautifully rounded sound and Walsh’s vocals are as good as they ever were.

There’s a good representation of material from the new album, and it goes down well on the whole. The show is perhaps a little one-paced until we reach the end of the main set, and James Stelfox’s bass comes alive on Four to the Floor, bringing the crowd along with it. Rounding the set out with their biggest record, Silence Is Easy, means that part of the show ends on a high. Interestingly, and this might be the particular vintage of this crowd, but there are only a handful of phones up in the air capturing this song. Most are happy to stay in the moment, savouring the chance to be in the presence of one of their favourite bands once again.

Set list:
Into The Wild
Poor Misguided Fool
After The Rain
Way To Fall
Better Times
Where The Wild Things Grow
Best of Me
Dead On The Money
Tie Up My Heads
Tell Me Its Not Over
Four To The Floor
Silence Is Easy
Good Soul

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