Saturday, December 17, 2005

One More Night

concert review: An Evening With 'Stars' @ Lee's Palace(Toronto, Ontario), December 15, 2005

Stars @ Lee's Palace: photo by Mike LigonUshering in the first night of Stars' run of six sold-out shows over four days at Lee's Palace was Toronto's first winter storm. Thankfully it had tapered off a bit by the time I headed down to Lee's Palace and I made it there just before Stars' came on. The stage had a beautiful silk-screened wintery scene with trees and a house that draped the back wall of the stage and it was adorned with white lights that gave it a nice dreamy effect. The band was rounded out with a lovely lady on violin and a gentleman(wearing A Tribe Called Quest "The Love Movement" t-shirt!) on saxophone. Over the course of just under an hour and half (including encore), Stars played a set of their shimmering pop tunes.

All the usual suspects were included in the set except for "Heart" and "Look Up" and you can see the setlist here. (Apparently Stars did play "Heart" and "Lookup" at yesterday's show.) There was an ebb and flow to the setlist that had dreamy pop numbers like "Ageless Beauty" and "Elevator Love Song" coming up at strategic points in the set to give the show a burst of energy between the mellower material. Torq was chipper as usual with his humorous remarks. He made a reference to the weather outside which he expressed was just like another part of the stage set(courtesy of God as he put it). Coincidentally, the wintery weather did put me in a very 'Stars' mood. Amy was a vixen maybe more than usual, at one point during the intro to one song, asking the audience for some 'sex'(well, that's what I heard) which drew a roar from the crowd. It was a pleasure to see the energy that Torq and Amy had on stage. The set closer was their current single "You Ex-Lover Is Dead" and it was impossible not to think of how the wintery weather outside perfectly complimented the images of the song's music video that were floating in my mind. Torq started off his vocal parts but when Amy's turn came and she sung "This scar is a fleck on my porcelain skin, You tried to reach deep but you couldn't got in", it was absolutely mesmerizing. The saxophone and violin combined beautifully during the song's instrumental breaks and the bass guitar, keyboards and drums meshed well as the song crescendoed during it's latter half. It was a spectacular way to end off the main set.

The encore ended up being four songs with the highlights being Amy's vocal turn on "Calendar Girl" and the band's cover of The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York". It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm thrown into the vocals parts during "Fairytale of New York" with a piss-and-vinegar attitude that came dizzingly close to that of Shane McGowan and Kirsty MacColl. Even if the show with the encore clocked in at about an hour and half, it all seemed to be over too soon. But I guess the best shows are always like that. Everyone that's going to the other Stars shows at Lee's Palace over the next few days, you are in for a treat. [photos from the show]
By the way, City Slang is offering a free limited-time mp3 download(registration required) of Stars' cover of "Fairytale of New York" taken from the b-side of the "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" single. I bought the CD single Thursday night and my copy is released by Arts and Crafts. I highly recommend you pick it up because it contains a different version of the title single. While the album version of "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" has a certain majestic quality, the version on the single is more stripped down and has a more intimate feel. But it's lovely all the same.

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