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Starsailor’s 2001 debut album, Love is Here, was poetically moped out music at its finest. The album’s hymnlike harmonies fit lovely against luminous guitars and keyboards. James Walsh’s piercing voice has always been the perfect mix of being captivating while sounding slightly corrosive; his clarity and engagement were effortlessly on point. Fourteen years later, Walsh could have chosen to place the power of Love is Here in his peripheral. But in front of a modest crowd at The Sinclair in Cambridge, the band was greeted with raucous cheers as they strolled onstage to kick off a memorable set.
As an onlooker screamed welcome back, Walsh retorted (in genuine awe) it was good to be back before jumping into “Poor Misguided Fool.” After blasting through the lyrical landmine that is “Alcoholic,” Walsh reiterated how nice it was to be in Boston after being gone for so long. He then explained that he was going to do something that he hadn’t done the entire tour and hoped it wouldn’t throw the rest of the band off. He would poll the audience to decide if they were going to do either “Lullaby” or “Fever” next (Walsh didn’t think that they’d work as a medley). “Lullaby” was then performed in its entirety, and Walsh deducted that if he didn’t talk so much he could get through the first verse of “Fever” (which he did). As the last show of their tour, the evening progressed as seamlessly as expected.
“Tell Me It’s Not Over” (from 2009’s All The Plans) howled unapologetically, “Keep Us Together” (off of 2006’s On The Outside) raged as the perfect sing along, and “Tie Up My Hands” was draped in such heavy handed guitar that was sort of spine-tingling live. The highlight of the evening was Walsh’s brief vocal excursion into MGMT’s “Kids,” mostly because of the slowcrawl sadness his plaintive cries can bring to any song. Walsh was beaming during “Four to the Floor,” Starsailor’s smash dance track from their sophomore record Silence is Easy and even brought out Embrace guitarist Richard McNamara to assist on a throaty rendition of Starsailor’s major breakthrough single “Good Souls.” The entire evening wasn’t just a celebration of Love is Here, it was a tribute to the record that solidified their credence as not mere musicians, but artists with staying power.