Remembering when Starsailor played in Action Records

Posted on - 25th July, 2017 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Nostalgia, Opinion
James Walsh from Stairsailor performing in Action Records in March 2009 Pic: Chris Skoyles
James Walsh from Starsailor performing in Action Records in March 2009 Pic: Chris Skoyles

Chorley-based band Starsailor are returning after a hiatus and have a new album coming out. We remember when they packed out Preston’s record shop.


As mid life crises go, buying a guitar is fairly tame behaviour. The first songs I’ve attempted to learn are the appropriately named Starsailor classics ‘Silence is Easy’ and ‘Poor Misguided Fool.’

While I dare to boast a decent record in charge of Preston City Council’s finances, my own investment history is rather more shady. For example, I once bought a bottle of House of Commons whiskey for sixty-five quid. It was signed by Tony Blair…before he embarked on the Iraq war.

I also own an autographed memento from Andrew Flintoff’s Freeman of the City of Preston ceremony…before he went drunk night-fishing in a pedalo and started working in a chip shop.

I similarly jinxed my favourite band, Starsailor, in 2009 when I bunked off work early to catch the promo for their last studio album at Action Records – the album which led to their five year hiatus.

After many years as a live music fan, I have become an unashamed (if rather ageing) groupie and happily turn up early, and hang around afterwards, for autographs and chats with band members. I arrived at Action Records several hours before the band (and any other fan for that matter) to find the staff decorating the shop with album posters.

I asked if I could buy one but the owner told me they were promotional material and not for sale. Unabashed, I asked if I could just take one instead. He relented and I rolled it up and went off to kill some time before the ‘gig.’

I was back in plenty of time to get front and centre to see my ‘man crush’ and lead singer James Walsh deliver a short set to a surprisingly small but fervent set of local fans.

Read more: Watch documentary charting Action Record’s place in Preston’s musical history

The whole band were there and I was perfectly placed to get my cheekily snaffled poster signed for the bedroom wall – when another amazing opportunity presented itself; James Walsh dropped his plectrum half way through his set and made no attempt to retrieve it. I kept one eagle-eye on the pick as he ploughed through both new and old songs prior to that ill-fated final tour before the band broke up.

The Manchester leg of that album tour was a strange affair with Walsh bemoaning the lack of attention the band were getting, and the fans eating up the aggressive rock from a band (and a following) convinced they should be playing stadiums not shops.

When the last song was sung at Action Records, the crowd moved in, and I pounced and plucked the plectrum from the floor before any other Starsailor stalwart could claim it. I turned to see the forlorn face of a wheelchair bound fan who had also had her eye on the discarded star’s pick…before mercilessly burying the prize in my pocket.

Read more: Remembering when Muse played in Action Records

Hey, all’s fair in love and rock music.

I faithfully queued with my fellow fans to meet the band, and while the tour t-shirt no longer stretches over my ever- burgeoning beer belly, the signed poster (with said plectrum encased in the frame) has decorated my wall ever since…until I retrieved the pick last week to pluck my new guitar in an attempted Starsailor stylee.

I’m not going to pre-order the new album and jinx another tour; and I’ll also be keeping a lower profile at the gigs, just in case James Walsh, or any grudge-bearing fellow fan wants their plectrum back.

Martyn Rawlinson is councillor for the Fishwick ward and the cabinet member responsible for finance and resources on Preston City Council. He also likes Starsailor.

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