Monday, November 26, 2007

Seeing Stars In Winnipeg

Way back in August when I bought tickets to Stars I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I loved their last release, Set Yourself On Fire, I'm enjoying Amy Millan's solo album, Honey From The Tombs (and her performance at the Folk festival) and I'm a fan of the Broken Social Scene (Amy is in that as well). Stars has been to Winnipeg a few times before, but I never have seen them live. When I got the tickets I wasn't aware they would be touring behind a new album, In Our Bedroom After The War , which they eventually released in September. They had it available for legal download on their website four days after the completion of the album on July 10. I managed to listen to the album in late August and since then it has stuck around on my iPod still to this day, it's that good! I was anxious to hear the new material (and the older) in a live setting, so Saturday's show was much anticipated.

When Sumi and I arrived at the Burton Cummings Theatre, it was 10 minutes to eight and the doors weren't open yet and there was a long lineup down Smith street to Ellice. I thought the show started at eight, not the doors, apparently we weren't in the minority. I pity the people that waited in the falling snow for the last hour. Once inside after finding our seats, a long 30 minute wait in the merch-table line gave us something to do until the opening band . If the Burt was ever planning any renovations, the lobby would be a great place to's way too crowded.

The openers were Miracle Fortress from Montreal who have a similar guy singer/girl guitar player, bass and keyboard band makeup, like Stars. The main difference being Miracle Fortress had duo percussionists which sometimes seemed to overpower the mix and made it difficult to understand the vocals. They didn't exactly excite me, but toward the end of their set I started to warm to them, if only slightly.

When the lights went down for Stars, everyone of the floor stood. The front of the stage was already crowded with teenage girls waving their camera phones in anticipation and the fog machine was spewing out layers of misty...fog! This was good because everyone in front of us in direct line of the stage left their seats to stand up front, it gave us a clear unobstructed view of the stage. During the first song, Take Me To The Riot, the back spotlights frantically panned up and down floor to ceiling and flashing blue light in our faces, creating an exciting frantic start to the show. The lights were crucial in creating atmosphere and mood throughout the show, it give it a very noir-like setting creating brilliant silhouette images and generated a welcoming feeling when the stage was flooded with warm pinks, purples and blue light. The elaborate stage setup was decorated with illuminated framed pictures and numerous vases of flowers that emulated a living room, or possibly a bedroom. Throughout the show, band members tossed flowers into the crowd.

They played a nice mix of songs from their new album and favourites from previous releases, the older songs had a renewed energy to them live and with during the songs from the new album, the band sounded fresh and enthusiastic to show off their new material. I was initially drawn to the band for Amy Millan's beautiful voice and the songs she sang, but live I developed an appreciation for co-front person, Torquil Campbell's compassionate heartfelt vocals. Torquil provides the spark and energy for the band, in contrast to Amy's somber stage persona, he doubled on keyboards and trumpet and he provided a highlight moment when he wandered off-stage and came back in a lighted suit. He looked like a lit up Christmas tree sauntering around the stage. Torquil thanked the audience for coming to the show and he sincerely appreciated the support and warmth he felt from Winnipeg...except when he goofed and said, "hope your team wins the Super Bowl tomorrow".

The band played 21 songs in just over an hour and a half which included a 4 song encore. I thought the show was everything a concert should be: visually pleasing stage show, tremendously tight performances, enthusiastic, but not crazy crowd, I was able to see the band clearly and up close (row 6 floor!), and the sound was decent (a little muddled at first, but it improved). Though Indie groups like Stars, BSS, and Feist seem to have a more dedicated following in Europe, this week they play Toronto for 4 nights and 2 dates in Montreal before heading off to Europe, so they probably won't tour Canada again until next year. If you have a chance to catch Stars in the future, see them!!

(If you have any photos from the Winnipeg show, please let me know so I can replace these photos from a past show on the tour).

I'm posting some of the highlights from the concert, about half the songs they played. I've posted the entire concert on Dimeadozen and if you want a copy, let me know. (note: I don't think I'll be able to post FLAC files as it'll take my file storage archive way too long to upload...sorry).

Burton Cummings Theatre
Winnipeg, MB
November 24, 2007

Take Me To The Riot
Set Yourself On Fire
Bitches In Tokyo
One More Night
Your Ex-lover Is Dead
In Our Bedroom After The War
The Night Stops Here
My Favourite Book
What I'm Trying To Say
Calender Girl


Anonymous said...

Off topic but have you seen any of the Leningrad Cowboy videos?

I recommend Sweet Home Alabama accompanied by the Red Army Chorus.


btw since LiveJournal has been bought out I can no longer post using my LJ account.

Anonymous said...

I bought 'In our bedroom after the war' mostly on your rec... this is a keeper.

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