Live Review: The Hanging Stars At St Michael’s Church

The Hanging Stars returned to a packed St Michael’s Church for the second time with their breezy, Cosmic Folk to promote new album On A Golden Shore

Hosted by Copper Blue Music Promotions, the night opened with a debut performance from Country/Americana solo artist Townsend Brown (Iain Morley), who set the tone for the folk-soaked night with alternate guitar tunings, and vocals seamlessly moving between his high tenor range to a soaring belt that filled the high ceilings.

Blues and Soul artist Paul Dunbar played a solo set with an equally transcendent, smoky smooth voice relaying songs from his upcoming EP finishing with the A Capella, crowd sing-along Mountain before The Hanging Stars were welcomed onstage with warm applause.

A 90 minute set quickly revealed a wide spectrum of retro influences with jangling 12 string guitars evoking the distinctive instruments ever-present pairing with The Byrds to razor sharp three part harmonies reminiscent of Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Whilst their sound can easily be described as a hazy reflection of the 70s California and British Folk Rock, the Hanging Stars lead a new sound spectrum of their own in an amalgamation of vintage, psychedelia that leans towards the 90/00s acoustic ballad resurgence in the soft melodies and nostalgia within the likes of Ryan Adams and Travis.

The band cement the sound of a near decade spanning career and musicianship, easily moving from one song to the next, culminating with generous instrumental sections not for the faint hearted.

We hear the realms of celestial folk play out with Joe Harvey Whyte’s dreamlike Pedal Steel elevating the sound to the next level. A chance to journey with the band as you imagine yourself listening to these guys back in time at a festival on a patterned rug under a starry sky. Only when lead singer and guitarist Richard Olsen eventually breaks the chain of music and takes to the mic to address the audience are we jolted awake from our trippy-folk haze.

The songs from their new album are visibly a comfortable territory for the seasoned musicians who now have five albums to date, with a refreshingly breezy essence. Notably, Happiness is a Bird with acoustic 12 string guitar and simple vocal melodies, drifting seamlessly between electric guitar and pedal steel solos and a solid rhythm section underneath, reminiscent of a modern day Allman Brothers Band.

Before closing their set, the band delved back into older archives for House On The Hill from their debut album released in 2016, unleashing a grittier sound of old school Country Rock before embarking on a 10 minute long crescendo encore.

Noting the larger crowd, it’s safe to say The Hanging Stars made a triumphant return to St Michael’s Church after their first visit in 2022. We hope to see them in Liverpool again soon for more Cosmic Americana.  

Naomi Campbell


Founder and Editor, Clare Deane, shares her passion for all the amazing things happening in Liverpool. With a love of the local Liverpool music scene, dining out a couple of times a week and immersing herself in to all things arts and culture she's in a pretty good place to create some Liverpool Noise.

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