Starcrawler are one of the bands I had missed most over the pandemic, quite possibly the band I missed most, having not seen them since late-2019 which is why, in the absence of a Norwich date, I was not going to pass up the opportunity to see them. I felt very lucky indeed to be seeing them twice actually, having only days earlier been in that audience in that unforgettable Third Man Records Blue Basement gig.
After stepping off the afternoon train when it arrived in Liverpool Street I thought I’d check out the location of the venue to know how long to allow myself for the walk back for the train back at the end of the evening. Heading in the direction of Shoreditch and into Hoxton Square I soon had my suspicions confirmed that Colours was indeed a venue I had visited before, under a different name when it hosted a gig by Marissa Nadler and Mary Lattimore that I attended in 2016 but as a result of some beautiful serendipity what I noticed first of all was Arrow and Henri chatting outside the venue itself, literally about 15 minutes after I’d stepped off that train. I was delighted to have a few nervous (on my part) words and get a couple of photos signed. They actually remembered me from Norwich and said they’d wanted to play the city but were unable to get a date that worked for all. There was much more I would have liked to tell them but there was a shyness hurdle on my part.
After walking around for a couple of hours I made my way back to Hoxton Square and made the mistake of having a pre-gig pint in the Red Dog Saloon opposite. I was told the pint I ordered was ‘not available’ and when I went to pay for my alternative was told they had ‘no change available’ (!), which must be their way of refusing to handle cash which is still very much my preferred form of tender, especially as my account was nearly empty but the card was just able to cover the very expensive £7.31 for a pale ale, outrageous even for London. This wasn’t a place to linger so after this I went straight to the Colours venue and found the staff and security super friendly. Also, beer was much cheaper than at the Red Dog and they happily accepted cash. I should have just come straight here, it was quite welcoming.
It wasn’t just the staff who were relaxed and friendly it was also a lovely crowd of chatty Starcrawler fans which made the time waiting for the show to begin fly by. I also chanced to see Arrow’s mom Autumn de Wilde again and this time felt brave enough to speak, adding that Starcrawler have the ability to make me forget everything negative for the duration of their shows. She agreed.
Support band were a new name on me – Island of Love – and they were good fun, loud and powerful and very well-received. They also have connections to Third Man Records, I believe. Colours apparently holds 300 which seemed almost implausible when it was nearly empty but when it was full it was very believable. One of those curious venues that look smaller when empty than when full.
Everyone was waiting for the main act though and keen to secure a good spot. The gig was another sellout and there was a palpable air of excitement and anticipation among the mixed crowd with a wide, healthy range of ages. The band all entered the stage from the same door this time and Arrow’s arrival was loudly greeted with approval from the by now packed floor. There was such a sense of occasion about this gig and Arrow especially has tremendous stage presence, it’s impossible to take one’s eyes off her. The setlist was, I think, much the same as it was at Third Man, it was such a big sound too with the two guitars, and the drums sounded massive. Arrow’s vocals were a tad low in the mix from where I was stood but that didn’t detract from a hugely enjoyable gig where the years fell away for the older audience members and we were all as one, a heaving mass of bouncing, moshing bodies – something I wondered at various points during the pandemic if we would see again. As the set closed with Bet My Brains Arrow climbed into the audience and was carried aloft before being lifted back onto the stage before running out through the stage door. The crowd were demanding an encore though and not taking no for an answer, eventually the request was granted and we were treated to an intense Chicken Woman, at the end of which Arrow was once again being carried by the adoring crowd. I’ve seen Starcrawler many times now and I think this is the first time I recall an actual encore. They leave everything onstage such is the energy of the performances that it almost seems greedy to ask for more but this was a hungry audience because Starcrawler shows so good that enough never seems enough.
The band had come to this gig from Dublin as they are currently supporting My Chemical Romance and all their days off from that tour they are filling with their own headline shows, almost running two tours concurrently. By rights this band should be huge but they are all big stars in my eyes and for everyone here, I loved hearing the stories from the other fans and how inspirational they are to many in the audience.