Having loved Stars since first hearing ‘Elevator Love Letter’, I was excited to finally see them in person. It was only after I purchased a ticket that I learned they would be playing their forthcoming album, The Five Ghosts, in its entirety. It takes a brave band to perform that much new material without alienating the audience. Thankfully, the initial unfamiliarity quickly gave in to a massive love-in between the band and the crowd. I had a less successful experience with Islands in that hazy period between Return to the Sea and Arm’s Way.
Dead Child Star, one of Torquil Campbell’s side-projects, was listed as an opener, but instead we received a DJ set courtesy of Campbell. I was under the impression that a DJ set was a little more involved than opening a playlist in iTunes, but toward the end of the set there was some more interaction and interesting trivia. Campbell claimed that ‘West End Girls’ by the Pet Shop Boys was the sixth best song ever written, and revealed ‘Thieves Like Us’ by New Order was the song responsible for Stars’ existence as a band. After noting the irony in so many couples coming to a concert of what I’ve always considered break-up music, I was ready for the main event.
After some time, the band emerged and began to play The Five Ghosts from start to finish. While the songs themselves are a bit of a blur, it’s safe to say I’m looking forward to getting a hold of the record itself. The most apparent change from the band’s previous work is a heavier focus on synthesizers, and calling back to the New Order played earlier, some of the new material was even danceable. I felt In Our Bedroom After the War didn’t escape the shadow of Set Yourself on Fire, so it’s good to hear something a little different. Floral arrangements adorned the stage, and the band members frequently threw petals and flowers into the audience. The new songs seemed to go over well with the rest of the crowd, though you could tell that some people were yearning for something more familiar.
Following a brief intermission, the band was only too happy to oblige and play all their hits and fan favourites “that 99.99% of Canada has never heard of.” Their website offered a chance to select the setlist for this part of the night, and luckily I got my three must-hear tracks within the first four songs of the encore. It was here the crowd reached its fever pitch. From the opening chords of ‘Your Ex-Lover is Dead’ to ‘Elevator Love Letter’ and beyond, the night ended in one massive sing-along. I went in with high expectations, and the band managed to exceed them. Stars are celebrating ten years of being together, and their future remains as bright as it has ever been.
I Died So I Could Haunt You
We Don’t Want Your Body
He Dreams He’s Awake
Never Been Good With Change
The Last Song Ever Written
How Much More
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
Take Me to the Riot
Elevator Love Letter
One More Night
All the Umbrellas in London (Magnetic Fields Cover)