Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Tell Me Its Not Over – Starsailor/Embrace

Posted by xneverwherex on June 4, 2015

Starsailor/Embrace
Slim’s
June 3, 2015

It felt like a reunion show of sorts, with these lovely bands of the late 90’s and 00’s. Its hard to watch these guys, not just as they age (we all do), but as the gigs change. At one point they were slated to play The Fillmore and then were bumped to Slim’s where it wasnt even a packed house. Seriously – its a pity. But at the same time, as a fan of the band, it meant a much more intimate show.

Starsailor It felt like a lifetime since I had seen Starsailor – a lifetime quite possibly being September 11, 2006 – a show that will live forever in my mind for the date alone and also seeing it in NYC. Its hard to pull off a show on that date – esp when it was just 5 years to the date. But I also had been lucky enough to see James Walsh perform a solo set, shortly before announcing the band’s hiatus. 5 years is a long time for a band to go away (even moreso now with videos on demand and everything changing in a heartbeat) and I am sure the band didn’t know what to expect on coming back. But here they were, filled with an audience who remembered the band from years prior, a little bit older but loving the band just as much.

James Walsh joked about growing old – getting fatter, losing hair, etc. – but his voice has held up quite beautifully. To this day, there are few artists that I put in his category of the greatest voices ever. Actually, between him and Kelly Jones of The Stereophonics, I am not sure there is a better voice out there. The band came out and jumped into “Poor Misguided Fool” which sounded as beautiful as ever. And wasting no time went directly into “Alcoholic” which was more heartbreaking than I had remembered it. It was quite awesome as the whole crowd sang along.

James wasn’t so talkative (when you compare him to Danny of Embrace), but he was having a really great time and was getting the crowd to sing along. Joking about if we didn’t know the lyrics how easy the part was – and demonstrated it for us (of course, it was just ooooh’s and aaahhhh’s). He introduced his band mates as the show progressed. Also, tried to not engage in a war of sports as a guy in the audience was talking about their football team winning 5 championships – and he wanted a high-5. James was pretty amusing and finally said something like ‘no way – I am not getting into a war about sports at a show – someone always gets mad’. Definitely one way to shut it down; although the guy wouldnt stop for a bit.

I was loving their faster, “harder” edged songs on James’ electric guitar. Their music had never sounded better to me. The show just could not possibly go on long enough and songs like “Fidelity” were just way too short. I loved that Danny had asked James to play “Fever” and so he dedicated the song to Danny and it was quite sweet. And Fever sounded just amazing! So glad it was put on the set. James’ high notes on “Lullaby” couldnt have sounded better. It felt like he should have been playing for a much bigger crowd. I loved that he asked about playing a new song, and if we wanted to hear it, and then he remarked about how he loved people singing along to a song that was just released a couple days before (thank you youtube)! And “Give Up The Ghost” is seriously that good! I am loving this new song and hope it brings new life to the band.

But one of the things Ive always loved about James is how honest he comes across. He remarked that when he started, their label probably would have dropped them if they only had one popular song, so it was a relief when their second song was a hit that they released. (Good Souls? quite possibly). The ending of the show was just insane playing some of their more popular songs. “Tell Me Its Not Over” is one of the most heart-wrenching songs ever and with the tempo of Barry banging on the piano its just soars and makes the song that much more upbeat. The audience was very into it and lots of hand clapping and singing along. Probably one of my favorite songs these days. Plus, its now getting ‘mixed’ and James is adding some other songs into it – such as Taylor Swift’s “Trouble” and I think part of an MGMT song was thrown in. And to end the show with “Four to the Floor” and of course “Silence is Easy” which is sounding as rocking as ever and closing it out with “Good Souls” — wow! Its great that the audience was so into it and he mentioned how we were so much a better crowd than Anaheim the night before and they were having such an amazing time.

Even if this were the last time I saw them (hopefully not!), I will forever have these awesome memories of the band. And of course, it all now lives on forever on youtube.

Embrace co-headlined the show and started off the night. And there were a lot of people in Embrace t-shirts which was pretty awesome. Danny McNamara, lead singer, is *the* ultimate front-man. If you ever wanted a band to be so full of energy and putting their hearts into a set, you couldn’t ask for a better band. The band, having been around since the brit-pop days of the 90s from the UK, seems to have somewhat fallen by the wayside. Steve, bassist, looked cooler than ever coming on stage with big sunglasses and the same floppy hair from the day. Most the band seemed like it never aged with similar hair styles. Like James said, maybe they got a bit older and fatter, but this band was looking awesome.

EmbraceThe band started off with the ever catchy ‘Protection‘ and after performing it asked how many of us even knew who they were from back then. Then obviously commented that we were all too young to remember them. The crowd missed the part of saying that the band was clearly too young to be that old. It was amusing. He asked how many people actually had their other albums and remembered songs from it. And of course, everyone knew their music and was singing along.

Danny worked the stage and kept prompting the crowd to move forward. Edging towards the very front of the stage he kept chastising the back of the room and told them they needed to be part of it; plus the sound stopped at a certain point and they just couldnt possibly hear the loudness from that far back. He was amusing but mostly just loving every minute of it. The band was just so excited to be playing you could see it all on their faces. As Danny would just look at you, his piercing blue eyes just melted you. I felt like I was 18 again crushing on a band.

Come Back To What You Know” took me back to my 20’s. I dont think I had really listened to The Good Will Out since what seemed a lifetime, but I could still picture their album – the front picture Ive never forgotten. Mickey was just awesome on the keys and in songs like the very dance-y “Quarters” it showed off his playing. And it also led into one of the many San Francisco stories. Mickey has a love of San Francisco and talked about wanting to move here as he so loved it here. Of course, real estate prices here is no ones friends, and Danny suggested he do a swap with someone at the show. Simply brilliant. They also talked about sitting at a pub and an 8-year old boy doing karaoke and singing ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’, but the poor kid had a lisp and couldnt say it. It segued into the band playing ever-catchy ‘Save Me‘ which had the crowd singing along.

One of the highlights was hearing Danny sing “Gravity“. It is one of the most beautiful songs and interestingly enough it wasnt even written by the band. It was written by one Chris Martin and team (aka Coldplay), who gave it to the band. And the song is so suited for them. Afterwards, Richard, guitarist and brother of Danny, sang the band’s new song ‘Refugees‘ which is a bit more electronic but with a rock edge featuring Richard’s falsetto which is nothing short of impressive. There was so much pressure and he joked about how nervous he was, so insisted on tuning his guitar for a bit, for fear of f’ing it up. Just watching Danny watch his younger brother was pretty sweet. It just reminded me of watching a proud family moment. And right after that going onto play one of my favorite songs ‘Ashes’ which people had been screaming out for. And everyone started jumping around with hands in the air singing along. It was one of those moments that you can imagine happening in an arena with everyone sharing that moment. So it wasnt quite like that, but it still had that feel and the band seemed pretty excited even as Danny kept motioning for people to ‘dance and sing’ and mostly to keep coming forward.

It was heartbreaking to hear Danny talk about how it might be the last time they ever play SF and he’d see us in the after-life. The crowd went nuts and so he suggested everyone getting their mates to their gigs so they could keep on doing this. And sure the band sounds like an homage to those other bands – The Charlies – Stone Roses – and any other 90’s band from the same era/area – and theyre all trying to still be here and keep playing. But there was something special about last night, hearing both bands talk so lovingly about the other. Danny commented on watching Starsailor the previous nights and how one show was really great and the other one was as good. The crowd chuckled. Definitely no love lost with these 2 bands.

So hearing these songs live, was really awesome. I still have a fondness for their music and while never was a huge Embrace fan, their live show is just brilliant. I wish I had thought to see them awhile back as I imagine their shows would have been nothing short of incredible. With that being said, their new song is a force to be reckoned with off their latest EP (from 2014) titled Refugees – and perhaps the tides will change and there can be a resurgence for Embrace.

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