REVIEW: James Walsh @ Newz Live, Newz Bar

One of the coolest and certainly one of the best looking bars in town Newz on Water Street has always been a hang out for the city’s fashionistas, but now on occasional Fridays the venue gets rocked to the core with Newz Live, an indie night promoting local talent alongside some of the biggest names on the scene.

Newz Live offers a refreshing change from the generic house music that pumps from the sound systems of the city’s clubs and bars over the weekend and sends a message that there is more to a great night out than funky house and cocktails.

Tonight saw the return of Starsailor’s James Walsh following a sell out appearance at the venue back in September last year. The enigmatic singer songwriter from Chorley loves playing in the city and this gig was an opportunity to play some material from the forthcoming album as well as some of his band’s classic hits.

What could be the making or even undoing of this venture is the selection of the support acts. Tonight our ears were not so much warmed up as scorched with a blow torch by local bands Fare Evaders and The Real Kicks. Fare Evaders a 4 piece from Liverpool struggled with the sound at first and many of their songs were unrecognisable through the blanket of noise. Once the levels were sorted however, the band played through a mixed bag of styles from strong Arctic Monkeys influences to hard rock to classic Scouse guitar and vocals. They seemed if anything to be trying just a bit too hard to please when a step back would be more appropriate as the opening act of the evening

Wirral band The Real Kicks followed and pity the sound engineer who was getting an ear bashing from lead singer Shaun Lewis, a man with more attitude than Liam Gallagher on a diet of blue meanies and Stella. These guys had the swagger and a set of songs that look set to push them firmly into the public conscience with an album due for release in the near future.

So to the headline set, an acoustic solo performance from Starsailor frontman James Walsh. Those lucky enough to be present were treated to a 23 track set littered with classics, covers and new material. From the moment the first chords of ‘Lullaby’ filtered from the balcony the crowd, a mixture of fans and regulars, sang along with every given opportunity. ‘Boy in Waiting’ from the band’s latest long player followed with some new songs before crowd favourites ‘Alcoholic’ and ‘Silence is Easy’ tested the vocal talents of the throng below.

We were treated to more new songs before Walsh really got into the party mood playing ‘Four to the Floor’ and covers from the Rolling Stones and Gorillaz before dedicating ‘Telling Stories ‘from The Charlatans to front man Tim Burgess who is booked to play a DJ set in the bar on Friday 30th.

Walsh then introduced an exclusive track from the new Kevin Sampson movie Powder which has been filmed in and around Liverpool over the past few months. This was followed up with another tribute to the ‘pool with a superb cover of ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ by Echo & the Bunnymen.

The set headed towards it’s climax with ‘The Thames’ and best of the new songs ‘Beautiful’ before the inspiring mantra of ‘Good Souls’ filled the room and there wasn’t a soul in the place who didn’t sing along to the traditional Starsailor finale.

But that was not all as James was encouraged to play some more from the crowd below. He didn’t disappoint ‘This Time’, ‘Poor Misguided Fool’ and ‘In the Crossfire’ completing a special night.

Look out for further Newz Live events over the coming months

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