it's Friday in Birmingham and for most that means
the start of a busy weekend full of drinking,
and the streets outside of the venue definitely
show the over excess already. But tonight I'm
in for something different I'm in for a night
of acoustic music by two artists who are normally
known for rocking out and bringing the noise.
I'm not sure what to expect but when I arrive
at the venue, I find that instead of it being
both on the stage at the same time mixing up the
songs, but they're doing individual solo slots.
Neil Starr is first up to entertain this room
of about 40 people. He starts off as he means
to go on with nice slow acoustic numbers about
things that have changed his life whether it be
girls and love, being on the road or more girls.
The first song he plays is so soft and so quiet
you can hear a pin drop, I've never been to a
gig with a room as quiet as this, I know there
playing in the HMV library but it really does
has a feeling that if you talk, someone will shush
you. He mixes up the set with some Attack! Attack!
and Dopamine songs as well as his own from the
album that goes with this tour Echoes and Ghosts
which is split half Neil and half Gavin. There's
not allot I can comment on other than it sounds
lovely, it's one man and a guitar so it's easy
to tune and get levels correct so it sounds as
good as it would on cd. One thing that Neil does
well is engaging the audience between songs as
he tells us how Gavin said “let’s
write a dark album and then he goes and makes
a song about sunshine and rainbows, which is
just typical of him, fuck the blackout”
this is obviously said sarcastically for laughs.
He also tells how he and Gavin are like an old
married couple, touring the country together and
drinking in gay bars. He brings the set to a close
by doing a cover of End Of The Road by Boys To
Men. Which gets the entire crowd joining in; even
Gavin joins him on stage unannounced which makes
him burst out in laughter.
Gavin Butler does pretty much what Neil did; play
nice slow acoustic songs that sound great live.
This just shows how good of a singer Gavin is,
as sometimes he's left in the shadows by Shaun
Smith in The Blackout but here he shines. He does
his songs off the Ghosts and Echo’s album
along with some covers including Oasis song and
theme for the royal family, Half The World Away,
The Blackout’s Save Our Selves (The Warning),
which is hauntingly beautiful and a version you’re
not going to hear anywhere else, all the crowd
sings along too making it something wonderful
and massive due to the quietness and closeness
of the whole evening.
Unfortunately he doesn't do as well as Neil keeping
the crowd entertained between songs as he tunes
his guitar, but he tries by adding to the gay
club story, telling us all how Neil met a nice
woman with a massive adams apple then changes
the words to one of his songs to tranny to poke
fun at Neil which makes the crowd laugh. Neil
joins him at the end of the set for
a dopamine cover which is normally the end of
the show but the People Poet joins them on stage
for a great cover of Foo Fighters My Hero which
ends the night in style.
To be fair this tour was never going to sell out
massive clubs, it's about two guys doing something
different, something they enjoy as a bit of fun
on the side, and although the songs are slow and
not really something you'd want to listen to in
public, it's worth a watch as the two guys have
so much character and talent it really makes up
for the plainness of the affair. So go and watch
them and if not go out and buy their album and
have a listen and chill out after a hard Friday
night of partying.
Gavin Butler 4/5
Neil Starr 4/5
Review By James Daly