Review | James Walsh at Lord John Russell, Southsea: 'One of the most underrated singers of the last 25 years'

Last December Starsailor were playing to 2,000 fans at Portsmouth Guildhall.

Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 5:24 pm

Tonight lead singer James Walsh appeared at the more intimate surroundings of the Lord John Russell in Albert Road.

The crowd are in expectant mood can’t quite believe the platinum-selling singer is playing their local boozer.

The venue is a welcome addition to regular live music and reminds me of the sadly-missed Eastney Cellars where I saw so many great acts over the years.

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James Walsh at Lord John Russell, Southsea. Picture by Paul Windsor

It's an early start for James – 7pm – just as people start to fill the surrounding pubs, turning the genteel shopping area into a buzzing hub for nightlife.

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There is no messing as James hits the ground running with the classic Good Souls, one of several songs from the band’s first album Love is Here. He soon hits us with Fever and the heart wrenching Alcoholic.

It did somewhat incongruous the crowd singing: 'My daddy was an alcoholic' in a pub, but there you go.

Before the show Portsmouth fan Ian Priestly approached James and asked him to play She Just Wept as it meant so much to his daughter for personal reasons.

James responded 'Well, I've not played that for years, but I’ll give it a go.’

And indeed he did, momentarily forgetting some words, but fair play for playing it, and providing one of the highlights of the evening in the process.

There is no doubt James is one of the most underrated singers of the last 25 years, there is a plaintive, soulful edge to his voice that raises the hairs on the back of your neck from the moment he starts.

There are also a smattering of songs from James’s solo career, having released several albums under his own name.

Stand out track was Cherry Blossom Tree from his latest album Everything Will Be OK.

Foregoing the opportunity to leave the stage for an encore, James stood his ground and finished with a rousing Silence is Easy and throwing in a bit of Dancing Queen. James is so good he can make an Abba song sound like a Starsailor original.

Top Man.