STARSAILOR Carling Academy. Glasgow. Fri 19 Sep

A heavy weight of expectation rests on Starsailor. Not only do they have to produce the goods to follow up their million-selling debut album Love is Here. but their much talked- about collaboration with legendary ‘Wall of Sound’ producer Phil Spector has sparked more interest than the music of their second album, Silence is Easy. It’s an awkward dilemma: should Starsailor force their music to the fore, or revel in the significance of Spector returning to producing for the first time in 23 years. For them? Starsailor? A young band from Wigan?

Singer James Walsh was in nappies when Spector produced his last album for the Ramones in 1980. 26-year-old drummer Ben Byrne wasn’t much older. He, if anyone, should benefit most from Spector’s reliance on lavish orchestration and layered drum echoes. Except Byrne t .; isn’t answering his phone. He was . out on the lash last night after ‘Silence is Easy’. the title and debut track from Starsailor’s second album, charted at number nine. Neither the record company nor his mum (bless) know where he is. It’s up to bassist James Stelfox to explain. ‘He's probably in a gutter somewhere,’ laughs Stelfox. ‘The rest of us are quite boring. Ben’s leading the rock’n‘roll lifestyle for us.’

The grounded normality of Starsailor has irked their peers. Not for them the hotel-trashing, premiere- attending, stage-larking antics. What you see is what you get: four ordinary blokes who produce extraordinary music. Silence is Easy is reflective of their more confident status: it reverberates with guts, warmth and honesty. Only two tracks bear the ‘Spector’ production label the title track and ‘White Dove’ - and when the collaboration wasn’t producing the desired results, Stelfox was charged with informing the charismatic American

They’ve had their fill of Spector

producer that his services were no longer required. ‘I always think you've got to be level-headed. He’s only a man at the end of the day. People build him up to have legend status, but he’s just a man.’

The band aired some of the new material while supporting the Rolling Stones and at a few gigs on the continent. A national tour to promote the album kicks off in Glasgow, but that’s not before the Starsailor camp moves to Aberfeldy for a couple of days. ‘James [Walsh]’s mum is from Scotland,’ says Stelfox. ‘And when we first got signed we wrote some of the first record at his mum’s house. So it’s close to all of us, really.’

And for Stelfox, playing live is the best release from ten months in the studio. ‘There‘s an energy there to give you a kick. It’s a bit like having great drugs without having drugs. It‘s just a great rush for me.’ (Maureen Ellis)

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Looking for a free Saturday night out? You could do worse than Party in the Dark. Two simultaneous showcase nights on Saturday 20 September have Kosheen, Turin Brakes, Longview and Speedway playing at Glasgow‘s Carling Academy, and Feeder, Turin Brakes, Snow Patrol, Longview and Dogs Die in Hot Cars at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange. Consult, listen to Beat 106 or visit your local 02 store for free tickets.

Snow Patrol

A gold star must go to Hands up for Trad, as S<:otlanr_l's first lrad MUSIC Awards were a great success, Among the Winners were Celtic Connections for Best Festival, Phil Cunningham for Best lnstrnrnentalrst. Back of the Moon for Best up and Corning Act and Caperearlre for Best Band A sper::a| award for Sehxzees to lradrtronai Mtrsrr: was posthumously given to Scottish poet and t'olklerrst llarnrsh Henderson, who died lll Marth 2002 It is hoped the awarrlswhreh r.-.Iere held at the Queen's l—lallr, eri new heeorrre an annual event. Here are the answers to the questions posed in ‘The Show Must Not Go On’ on page 5. Freak of Nature=hair dryer; Ozzy Osbourne=cold; White Stripes: car crash; Peter Andre: excessive bananas; Weezer: video shoot; Moby=Sars; Joe Strummer=mother-in-Iaw; Shaun Ryder=drunk; 50 Cent: crazy crowds. and Skinnyman: arrested. Shame on you if you actually knew who Freak of Nature were.