Starsailor / Scars on 45s - 53 Degrees Preston - 3.10.07

Scars on 45 is a terrible name for a band. That said, this six piece from Bradford come across like a more folky Deacon Blue with acutely observed slice of life lyrics. Although politically aware, Scars On 45 never become preachy or over earnest. The pedal steel guitar has a country feel to many of the songs with sweet backing vocals enabling a feminine touch to the tracks "Words" and "Insecurity"

The long haired bearded chap on stage isn't a roadie tuning a guitar but the lead singer of Starsailor. From a fresh faced innocent to a more mature looking man, the transformation James Walsh has undergone is remarkable. Performing a short acoustic set before his bandmates accompany him James tells everyone this is the closest he's ever come to playing a homecoming gig as the frontman was born and bred in Chorley, only ten miles away from Preston. His voice may be a little hoarse and croaky but there's no denying the strength and power his vocal carries. His Grandma in the audience tonight certainly agrees as she's smiling from ear to ear. "Fever" and "Lullaby" stripped down have never sounded so raw, urgent and emotionally resonant.

Twenty minutes later the other three members of Starsailor arrive. Opening with the melancholic splendour of "Poor Misguided Fool", Starsailor are on top form despite being relatively quiet for the last couple of years. The crowd are surprisingly subdued, but become more animated as the gig progresses. While "Alcoholic" isn't the jolliest of songs its still a compassionate sensitively written ballad which never fails to strike a chord. They rock things up next with the crowd pleasing anthem that is "In The Crossfire" and unveil brand new song "Boy In Waiting" which although doesn't break any new ground for the band could be a good choice for a future single in one of their more mellower moments. Walsh also displays a mischievous sense of humour, when performing "Good Souls" he cheekily sneaks in a verse of two from the Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows"

For the encore Starsailor play the incredibly melodramatic "Silence Is Easy" and for reasons best known to James Walsh and co seamlessly take us to Abba's "Dancing Queen". For a band who are normally quite serious musicians live, its good to see their northern sense of humour creeping into their set

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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