If an artist is going to tour why co-headline? As excellent as both these gentlemen and their support were on the night it still leaves the questions of why? and what for?
If the idea tonight was to give two sets of musicians’ fans just a taster of the others output then it was objective achieved because it felt as if we didn’t get enough of either Ian Broudie or James Walsh in the end.
Even Matthew P seemed to be off as soon as he made it to the stage. The world seems to be full of troubadours these days; man and guitar taking on the world. In this case the Suffolk-based singer/songwriter was accompanied by an automaton that spelled out his name in a constant wave motion complete with flying seagull attachment. It seemed to have the desired effect mesmerising the audience into giving full attention to the songs from his forthcoming album, most of which seemed to be about ex-girlfriends. “On Top” and “End Of The World” stood out.
If Ian Broudie and James Walsh take it in turns to headline then tonight it was Ian’s turn to play the second role. Accompanied by Angie Pollack on keyboards he ran through 45 minutes of The Lightning Seeds greatest hits interspersed with the odd new song. “Marvellous”, “Life Of Riley”, “Pure”, “Change”, “Lucky You”, “Sense”, “Perfect”, they just kept on coming.
Sometimes Ian Broudie cuts a tentative figure when playing live as if he is unsure that the audience really want to hear him. Tonight he was seated throughout which suited the Glee Club stage and atmosphere. Almost as famous for being a producer from the early days of Echo and the Bunnymen to the current output from The Coral and The Zutons he knows how to press the fans’ buttons. This was more of a festival set cut down for the two of them but it showed how prolific the guy is and also how many hit singles he has had over the years, almost by stealth.
The hits are so familiar that a song like “Smoke Rings” from his solo album Tales Told, or “I Still Feel The Same” from The Lightning Seeds latest Four Winds album stand out a mile. A longer set with much more of this would have been welcome.
The same can be said for James Walsh’s set. He was almost apologetic for playing new material thanking the audience for their patience “only one more to go and then I’ll play the hits”.
I suppose that it is understandable as Starsailor are another band who just get on with life, producing the hits almost under the radar. Four albums later and of course the fans want to hear the familiar songs, especially in a showcase like this one, and in a city where the full band have a decent following and always go down well at the nearby Academy. But again the stronger songs seemed to be the new material. Perhaps this is because they are fresher and more vibrant, or because they signal a change in direction.
“Desert Rain” is from James Walsh’s music for Powder – the film of Kevin Samson’s book relating experiences of managing Liverpool band The Farm. The song is more direct yet darker perhaps helped by the book’s subject matter. He even include a Christmas song, but not one of his own — this was Joni Mitchell’s “River”
In his solo performance it is easier to see the quoted influences coming through particularly with the vocal style owing at least something to Tim Buckley, and Nick Drake never too far away. In fact there was one protracted piece of banter with the crowd regarding the location of Tanworth-In- Arden, the site of Nick Drake’s grave. Apparently James and the crew were planning a pilgrimage to St Mary’s churchyard for the following day.
Then on to the hits — “Good Souls, “Silence is Easy”, “Four To The Floor” and “Lullaby” with “Alcoholic” ending the set.
Dylan’s “Its All Over Now Baby Blue” served as the encore for all of them with Broudie proving more animated than he had been during the whole of his own set. At one point his roadie had to hold on to the legs of his chair to prevent him from toppling over.
In the end this was a really enjoyable evening but in my opinion more new material and fewer familiar songs would have provided a better showcase for both main performers.
Ian Broudie Set list
I’ll Be Around
I Still Feel The Same
You Showed Me
Life Of Riley
It’s All over Now Baby Blue
Review – Ian Gelling
Photos – Steph Colledge