And so the story begins…again.
The strap-line for Star Shaped is “The Home of Britpop” and anyone (anyone) who thinks that is just good marketing or who wants to dismiss it as hyperbole needs to stop and take a look at the line-up for this years festival.
Former Seahorse (that’s a literal truth, he was in fact, at one time, an actual seahorse) Chris Helme will kick things off with a solo set. That set will leave you breathless. Helme is possessed of a voice that is so rich, so pure, so powerful and so beautiful that it is probably used on training courses in heaven for angelic choirs.
Then it’s the return of the Mark with an appearance from Bluetones singer Mark Morriss. With a new album due out this year and hot on the heels of some incredible live shows from The Bluetones last year this promises to be a great performance. Morriss is a genuinely great songwriter and, as importantly for events like this, he is charming and funny.
The curious charms of Salad are guaranteed to remind people why I included them in my piece on the definitive songs of the Britpop era. With a back catalogue of pop eccentricity and brand new music which surpasses the hits Marijne and Paul will have you declaring them your new favourite band within about thirty seconds.
Last year Andrew Montgomery appeared at Star Shaped and left me in tears. His voice, that voice, remains completely untouched by the passing of time and now with the full, original, line-up of Geneva for the first time in too many years we will be given the chance to thrill all over again to the songs that provided heart and soul in amongst all the knees-ups of the nineties.
Space were the big surprise for me at Star Shaped 2017, I had missed, or dismissed them, in the nineties but I can honestly say that they are one of the best live bands I have ever seen. Their quirky pop hits are transformed into powerful, bone shaking, heart stopping things when played live. My ears are still ringing two years after the fact.
Cast are Britpop legends and as a live act they are difficult to top. They have more big hits than you could list and the idea of a set from them closing with “Alright” and a venue full of Britpop obsessives bellowing every word back at them is reason enough to buy a ticket right now.
And that’s that.
Except, of course, that is very far from that.
Two more things should be at the forefront of your mind;
Firstly, who are the mystery band? This year sees a number of Britpop classic albums celebrating their 25th anniversary…could it be one of those? “Change Giver” from Shed Seven? “Homegrown” by Dodgy? “Time for the Rest of Your Life” from Strangelove? “Everyone’s Got One” by Echobelly? “Split” by Lush? or “Now I’m a Cowboy” by The Auteurs!
Secondly, the Star Shaped festival is about more than the music. I met so many genuinely lovely people at the events in 2017 and last year. Strangers who draped their arms around my shoulder and sung along with songs that defined our lives…kindly souls who just wanted to chat about the old days…Twitter souls who made a bee-line for me to introduce themselves. I haven’t left an event without a feeling of belonging to something…a real sense of community.
Third…Star Shaped doesn’t stop when the house lights go up.
As well as the DJ’s filling the space between bands with more Britpop bangers than you could dare to dream of there is also the legendary after show party which, occasionally, features a guest DJ spot from some Britpop legend or other.
Well actually…yes that is included in the price of your ticket!
The countdown is on…grab your tickets now and I’ll see you there.