Stars satisfy at the Paradise

A review of Stars at the Paradise Rock Club on June 1, 2010

, Staff Writer

Canadian indie outfit Stars have been around for nearly ten years, and have enjoyed a fair amount of attention since 2003’s Heart. With complex vocal harmonies and affected lyrics, the band has had a consistent stream of quality releases for a number of years, and as such have attracted a fairly passionate following. Their new album, The Five Ghosts, comes out on June 22, and in anticipation, Stars is touring across North America. On Tuesday, they dropped by the Paradise, playing to a packed house that immediately showered the band with adoration.

Some songs from the new album were performed, most notably “Fixed,” which has been making the rounds online for a few weeks. Amy Millan took vocal duties for this one, her voice round and light. Torquil Campbell provided a light harmony underneath, the whole thing driven by a sharp synthesizer and rhythmic guitar. In terms of back catalog, with five albums’ worth of material, it was all but impossible for every fan to hear their favorite songs, but there are a lot of old standbys that every Stars fan can get behind. “Ageless Beauty” is the clear candidate in this camp, and a cheer of approval rose from the audience as the familiar chord progression hit their ears.

Stars have a certain subdued but powerful stage presence: Millan and Campbell, simply by virtue of the harmonies required of them, can’t go too nuts on stage. Millan in particular is prone to closing her eyes and singing delicately into the microphone, strumming her guitar contently. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, considering the pop-y music that Stars makes, though the rest of the band certainly moves enough to make up for it. The vocals are clearly the focal point of this band, and it bodes well that Millan and Campbell are able to produce their harmonies perfectly in the live arena, where pitch is usually the first thing to suffer.

“Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” was another favorite that the band performed impeccably. Compared to the band’s performances four or five years ago, their sound has filled up on-stage: certain elements that were once missing are now injected right back into their pieces. There was simply a lot of energy going around the Stars show – a refreshing change of pace for a scene known for folded arms and head-bobs. “Elevator Love Letter” was met with high accolades as well, and everyone sang along to the irresistible verse and chorus, which naturally took on a sort of call-and-response as Campbell and Millan traded verses.

All in all, it’s hard not to walk away satisfied from a Stars show. They’re a band that’s been around for a while, and endured the constantly changing tides of the indie scene that, really, they’ve been pioneers of. This longevity is a testament to the quality of their music, and just how much the band has been able to make a connection with their fans over the past decade.

Leave a Reply