Steve Balsamo - Manchester Life Cafe - 3.3.02

On the same night that Pop Idol Will Young heads straight in at Number 1 with his record breaking double a-side of "Evergreen" and "Anything Is Possible", a real Pop Idol is heading out on the road on the first date of his UK Tour. Its a fact that isn't lost on Steve as he slyly slips out the thinly veiled dig so who bought Will Young's single then? To which everyone laughs out loud except for a middle age woman who missed the point completely. After a spell in West End playing the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar...Steve has been there, done that, gave his soul to the devil and now he wants it back by getting back to his true roots of Welsh White Boy Soul.

Debut single "Sugar For The Soul" fuses a hint of Robbie in the vocals and a touch of Toploader gone pop in the instrumentation, but ultimately its Balsamo's individuality that shines through in the formula led world of British Pop. Backed by a six piece live band to beef up the recorded versions while still retaining the type of professional polished sound that can fill stadiums the world over. At times it can all seem a little ballad heavy and seems like a bridge from the West End to the Pop Charts, but given time I'm sure you'll see a progression into bona fide pop star.

With so many pop stars relying on cover versions and a team of songwriters it would have been easy for Steve to click his fingers after his spot in the West End for the best songwriters in the business. Instead he's got back to his roots of live rock & roll and penned his self titled debut album. His only cover tonight, a take on the Beatles "Hello, Goodbye" complete with a sly dig at Oasis is played simply as a nod to the greatest songwriters ever and not as the trump card often used by the C-list manufactured pop acts.

Based on tonight's show Steve Balsamo shows he has ability to reach out to adoring girls and middle age couples. It may not be a musical revolution but he's more than able to take Will Young out in 60 seconds.

Alex McCann

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