The stage was a veritable bed of white roses as Montreal-based Stars trooped on stage this Monday at the Scala.
From the first note it's an extremely relaxed, professional sound – Pat McGee hardly misses a beat on the kit, meanwhile Evan Cranley and Chris Seligman are making sublime noises in the guitar and keys departments. They might've left the orchestra at home, and the new material is obviously less-rehearsed, but overall it's impressive and engaging. They're ostensibly here to promote their fourth album "In Our Bedroom after the War", but it's the more familiar "Set Yourself on Fire" that really shines here.
And the vocals are ruddy marvelous – when we can hear them. Poor front-man Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan battle diligently against difficult acoustics and a full mix to make their poignant, quietly magical lyrics heard. While it's Torq that takes center-stage, demure indie goddess Amy Millan croons and strums wonderfully during "The Night Starts Here" and despite sporting some baggy animal-print number that Tina Turner wouldn't turn down, proves herself to be the understated star of Stars.
Clearly comfortable in their own skins, Campbell and Millan ooze charm – full of smiles and getting involved with the audience but – somewhat ironically - it's difficult to say Stars set the place on fire. Torq's direct addresses to the crowd are almost painfully earnest and received with a kind of shy glee: punters coyly turning from the confrontation as though avoiding a slobbering kiss from a distant aunt.
After a slightly slow start the audience can't help but submit to Stars' relentless barrage of indie-pop, and the energy peaks with "Take Me to the Riot" and "Ageless Beauty". Everyone in the room is smiling and shaking with delight. Roses are showered out upon the music-lovers, and everyone's feeling the love. It's the end of the tour, and Stars do it proud.
Words by Simon Pearson and Daniel Govan.