Ithaca State Theater: February 6, 2009
By Renee Addington
I cried, so it must have been good.
It was a sweet, chilly night, a concert to remember fondly. Playing a few songs off his latest album, Brother’s Blood, opening act Kevin Devine impressed with his music, lyrics and adorably awkward stage banter. Admittedly, his clichéd activist rock left me wanting, but it laid a strong foundation for the pumped-up Stars set.
I adore Stars, but feared the indie pop would fall flat outside the studio walls. The show would impress. Stars opened, appropriately enough, with “The Night Starts Here,” immediately building up the crowd for a good show. The band was grinning and dancing away, enjoying the night as if they had never done it before. Toruqil and Anna had quite the stage presence, engaging in cheerful banter and tossing roses into the crowd.
Stars pulled heavily from their fan-favorite album, Set Yourself on Fire, though they performed songs from all four of their albums. A personal favorite was “The Ghosts of Genova Heights.” Torquil’s ridiculous, almost synthesizer-like vocals were even better in reality than on the album, the best of the band’s dance-indie pop fusion. Other performances included “Ageless Beauty,” “Elevator Love Letter,” “On Peak Hill” and “What I’m Trying to Say.” The entire group, including bassist/guitarist Evan Cranley and drummer Pat McGee, played strongly all night.
The most beautiful aspect of the concert was Torquil and Anna’s harmonic couplings. It seems impossible that even two people who were in love could manage to sound so mentally and emotionally in sync, let alone two friends. “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” was so powerful that tears welled in my eyes. The music was so smooth and heart-wrenching, and seemingly pulled together the memories and dreams of everyone in the audience.
Stars ended their set to raucous applause, drawing them back for a final few songs. Their encore included “You Are My Favourite Book,” “Set Yourself On Fire,” “One More Night” and “Calendar Girl.”
Fortunately for all of us, Torquil announced that the band would be ending their tour to work on their next album. Here’s hoping the memories of the concert hold us over.