James Walsh at the Actress & Bishop

It must take some confidence to be able to walk onto a stage, to perform to an expectant crowd and to bear one’s soul through one’s music. Something I have nothing but the greatest admiration for. What is really impressive, though, is when an artist can have that confidence but still appear humble and unaffected. When they appreciate the hold they have over their audience but to not allow that to become arrogance or an ego trip. It is a talent only afforded to a select few of performers, one of whom is James Walsh, singer and song writer of the band Starsailor, who played the opening night of a solo tour supporting his forthcoming new album, in Birmingham.

Opening up with one of his new songs, Germaine, James proceeded to put together a set list of new songs, old favourites and a sublime cover of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy, that flowed beautifully and enraptured the assembled small, but fully appreciative crowd. A crowd that was treated to his innermost thoughts, concerns and theme’s brought to life with honesty, humour, skill and joy. Laughter and tears were in equal supply as James enthralled all with the beauty of both his poetry and musicianship. A set that was, seemingly, over far too soon, yet was packed with all that you could hope for from this brilliant performer.

Indeed, with James’ desire to please, the shouts for more obscure songs were accommodated superbly as introductions to the encore tunes before the crowd were led to sing along raising the roof, and making the crowd seem so much larger than it was. An energy that seemed to inspire James to greater levels of performance, the mantra of ‘Nothing Is Impossible If You Say Fuck It All’ being brought to a crescendo of togetherness between artist and crowd; a crescendo that James seemed most genuinely touched by. This is a performer who is receptive of and enthused by the reaction he inspires which makes his humility all the more remarkable when many other performers would allow ego’s to be massaged by such moments.

I have seen a lot of gigs in the last 36 or so years of concert going. I’ve seen the hugest acts in the biggest stadiums. I’ve seen some of the most iconic performers and performances in that time. Always, though, in that list of memorable gigs, the ones where I’ve seen James Walsh play in small intimate club scenarios feature very highly. This gig joins that list and will live long in my memory. A beautiful evening of wondrous song, gorgeous melody and fabulous playing.

James Walsh is on tour supporting ‘Tiger On The Bridge’ in May with tickets available for the remaining dates at https://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Liverpool/EBGBs/James-Walsh-Starsailor-Solo-acoustic/13495235/