Stargazer: Action for M.E.
Thursday 4th June 2015
The Half Moon Putney, Putney, London, United Kingdom
This was a very special show for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was a charity event raising money for M.E. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis which is a long-term (chronic) fluctuating illness that causes symptoms affecting many body systems, more commonly the nervous and immune systems. Secondly, it was the debut live performance by a brand new act called Stargazer. Stargazer is formed of Martine McCutcheon (singer and actress best known for Eastenders, Love Actually and her song ‘Perfect Moment’) and her husband Jack McManus (singer-songwriter best known for his song ‘Bang On This Piano’ from 2008). Martine has actually suffered with M.E. herself so the event was significant for both her and Jack.
Walking onstage with a trio of musicians (bass, guitar and drums) Stargazer kicked off with a brand new song called ‘Suitcase’ which is definitely a radio-friendly track. Martine and Jack have been together with each other for nine years and explained that the song ‘Archive’ was about closing the book on a relationship. It is a very clever song lyrically and reminded me of The Corrs and Pat Benatar.
‘Forces’ was a pleasant vocal duet between the two whilst ‘Say I’m Not Alone’ (which they said would probably be their first single release and it sounded like a Crowded House song that wasn’t used. Absolutely stunning vocals and the musicians were first class.
‘Stay With Me’ was written in their kitchen at 3 o’clock in the morning and the emotion in the song was similar to Lady Antebellum’s ‘Need You Now’. Pausing for a moment, Martine explained that she was a huge fan of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac and they went into ‘Dreams’. Now although Martine’s vocals were strong and the electric guitar solo was well played, it is such a hard song to put your own stamp on and unfortunately it just was a well done cover. However, ‘Inhale’ and catchy lyrics whilst ‘Midnight’ had a Radio 2 sound and the approach was a lot like a Leo Sayer track.
‘Cried A Little’ had some very sombre keyboards from Jack but then the mood picked up a bit when we all sang happy birthday to someone in the audience. Closing with ‘Any Sign of Life’ Martine said ‘This is a drive around L.A. with the top down type of song!’ That was definitely true as the guitar and vocal tone made me think of Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex Is On Fire’ on a sunny day.
Coming back onstage for an encore, they chose to do ‘Landslide’ which is a fantastic song but had the exact same issue as ‘Dreams’ in terms of making it their own but the acoustic guitar fit the mood perfectly. They closed the show with ‘Don’t Do Me Like That’ by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and the crowd all had smiles on their faces. However, the crowd could not stop talking during the set and I keep noticing it more at shows i attend either in a reviewer or audience member capacity. It is so rude and frustrating and I find it mind boggling that people would pay a ticket price to a show just to talk throughout!
In conclusion. Stargazer have a very bright future ahead of them because the songs are really great and perfect for radio and the musicians were professionals. They should release an EP or an album and do some festival appearances and small intimate club shows like this one to really get the band known. It isn’t easy going out with a brand new collection of unheard songs for any act whatever their status and I believe they handled it perfectly.
Watch this space as I think we will be hearing a lot more from Stargazer in 2015.
Words: Glenn Sargeant
Stargazer will be performing their debut festival performance at Cornbury Festival this year on Saturday 11th July 2015. For tickets visit: www.cornburyfestival.com
For more information follow Martine McCutcheon on Twitter @martineofficial and Jack McManus on @jackmcmanus.