Feb 27, 2008

Stars @ Spectrum

"Live Through This and You Won't Look Back" sang Stars of Montreal. Sydney responded with much love and affection. No, huge love and affection. Love, affection and enormous respect. For a band that gave its all and then some. Passion, joy and utter glee were floating through Spectrum on a rainy Tuesday night in Sydney. When it was announced that Stars would be playing the tiny Spectrum venue on their first trip to Sydney I was two things. Surprised and delighted. Surprised because I thought they would play a larger venue. Delighted because they chose not to. There is something to be said for a small, intimate venue. It absolutely heightens the experience, giving you that immediate, personal connection that you rarely get in a larger venue. And connection is the word. For this band made a connection I have rarely seen bettered. They touched our hearts, our minds and our souls.

I have all of the albums so far produced by Stars. But I will admit, that even though I am definitely a fan, I am not totally in love with each and every song in their repertoire. However, after seeing them live, I think my opinion might have changed. There is a magical quality to their music. It is always delightful, totally infectious and above all, there is a direct and deadly connection to the heart. This band plays with great swirling masses of emotion. Symbolic of this were the flowers strewn all over the stage. Roses adorned the microphone stands and through out the night, the band propelled the flowers into the adoring crowd. I am sure there would many happy people going home with such a personal souvenir. And this was definitely a personal experience. I mean, the music was great enough on its own, but Stars make sure that each audience member willing to invest in their experience goes home with a swelling heart and a glowing smile. Despite some sound problems, Torquil was forever fiddling with his ear piece, the band was extremely tight. All six played their part and did it superbly. I guess the only downside of a small venue like this is that sometimes there are technical issues, but the band overcame them with ease. That is primarily thanks to the skill and ambition of the two prime singers. Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan. Whilst Torquil doesn't possess an amazing voice, live he sings with such passion and directness that you can't help not be moved by it. And Amy, oh Amy. Her voice is quite angelic and just a sheer beauty. To hear her sing "Elevator Love Letter" second song in was a definite highlight. As was "Window Bird", one of my favourite tracks from their latest album. Other standouts on the night were the delicious "Personal", a terribly moving song, "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead", a show stopper if ever there was one and the closer "In Our Bedroom After The War", a slow burning song that veers near sentimentality but manages to become epic due to the passion of Torquil. And that was key to tonight. This band makes you believe in their music. I would say even if you were a casual fan going in, you would walk out a definite convert. After a short break they returned to play a gorgeous "Calendar Girl" and then closed with a surprise. A superb rendition of The Smiths' classic "This Charming Man". Then they departed, having given their all. To an adoring audience, who will remember this night for a long time.

Set List
The Night Starts Here
Elevator Love Letter
Soft Revolution
Window Bird
One More Night (Your Ex-Lover Remains Dead)
The Ghost Of Genova Heights
Bitches In Tokyo
The Big Fight
Midnight Coward
Take Me To The Riot
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
Ageless Beauty
In Our Bedroom After The War

Calendar Girl
This Charming Man

I missed part of the support act Plastic Palace Alice. But what I happened to catch was mightily impressive. This young Melbourne outfit looks to have a big future. Their strong melodic pop is augmented by strong keyboards. Having a similar sound to the main act, I really enjoyed their inventive approach. They are releasing their debut album "The Great Depression" on March 29.

I have more photos of the night at Flickr.


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