Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stars @ The Phoenix, Nov. 27

Amy Millan was quoted in last week’s Now magazine saying that Stars are “pretty much sticking” to the same set each night for their current tour. And last night’s set was almost identical to Monday’s show, with two differences: one that I’ll mention below, and Monday they included “Look Up” from Heart, a song I haven’t heard them do live, and a song that a friend told me was once described in a review as “the sound right before you start crying.”

The Beginning After the End
The instrumental synth track that begins Stars’ latest CD, In Our Bedroom After the War, is also first up here. Fresh flowers are everywhere, and will soon be thrown into the crowd all night long. Torq’s in the same grey suit both nights and Amy’s doing her biker grandmother look.

Take Me to the Riot
Possibly my favourite song from the new record, the rock-out number’s a great way to kick off the show.

Set Yourself on Fire
The title song from their third album, this always gets the crowd in the right mood. Torq does his robot dance before bringing it down for the “20 years asleep before we sleep” outro. Stunning.

Elevator Love Letter
For the old-timers, Amy says on night one. Only one of two songs from their second album, Heart, and there are none from their first CD.

The Ghost of Genova Heights
Their most love-it-or-hate-it song. I am in the latter camp, although Torq hams it up by wearing a suit made of white lights.

Bitches in Tokyo
The biggest problem with the Phoenix shows is that they’re all-ages gigs, which isn’t in itself a bad thing. However, the Phoenix barricades the drinkers into the rear of the club. So if you want to be close, which we did the first night, you have to stand amid a sea of screaming 15-year-old girls. I’m impressed, though, that the teenyboppers seem to know all the lyrics to the new album. I, on the other hand, can hardly remember the titles, including this one. Thanks again to Zack for remembering what we were listening to, and taking the photos (click on the thumbnail for a larger version).

One More Night
A gem from SYOF, dedicated to Torq’s high-school teacher and Dick Cheney becoming involved in “rough anal sex.” Realizing what he said in front of an all-ages crowd, Torq reminds us that Stars “are an evil band and [we’re] evil to be there.”

I would prefer to hear Barricade, the other hate-it-or-love-it track from In Our Bedroom (I love it). But this one is equally dark and really shows off the vocal chemistry of Torq and Amy.

The other song from Heart, of course. One of my all-time favourites and Torq delivers it better than ever. He has really come along as a singer since his whispery, slightly off-key days.

Midnight Coward
The new songs fare well live, helped out by the fuller band and especially Pat McGee’s give-’er drumming. Who knew this was a new-wave dance song?

Window Bird
Amy’s moment. This song doesn’t do a lot for me, but it’s great to just give in to her voice. She’s as sweet and sour as they come.

Soft Revolution
My favourite track on SYOF. So nice to hear. And there’s still a shout-out to Metric at the end.

Sleep Tonight
The only real misstep of the night. A technofied version of the touching mid-album SYOF track. Should have played “Look Up” instead.

The one that started my love affair with Stars, a song about getting old, drinking hard, and needing a second chance. I would have enjoyed it more the first night except that when Torq sang, “17 and half alive,” the kids in the crowd shrieked with recognition. Can I still do this now that I’m more than twice their age?

Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
It’s so Stars that they’ve made “live through this and you won’t look back” a sing-along moment. Brilliant.

Ageless Beauty
The fifth SYOF song in a row and a crowd favourite. I heart Amy.

In Our Bedroom After the War
Let’s get serious for a moment. Here’s where Stars separate themselves from the pack. A triumphant set closer with Torq throwing himself into its final chorus. If anyone has video of this, YouTube please.

The Night Starts Here
Well, the encore starts here at least. Again, a lot of love from the crowd for their latest CD. Good to see.

My Favourite Book
Or when Amy Millan out-Feists Feist. And a bass change for Evan, preferring a large, cherry-red model (which sounded like shit the first night).

What I’m Trying to Say
They enjoy playing this one and I’m sure it’s going to be in the set list for a long time. The last rock-out number before the cool down.

Calendar Girl
And the crowd lets out an “I can’t believe they’re playing this!” gasp. Can melt stones with this one.

The Aspidistra Flies
On night one, they finished with a beautiful rendition of “What the Snowman Learned About Love” from Heart. Last night, it was this delicate track, hidden on the early Comeback EP. Torq, however, has problems remembering when to come in and claims he may have had a stroke. Once they get it right, they leave us in style. And wanting more. See you Sunday.

Stars: The Aspidistra Flies (mp3) (zip)


Karen said...

Thanks for posting the set-list for Monday and Tuesday. I was at Wednesday's show and was disapointed they didn't play "Heart"(my fave stars song).
I should've gotten tickets to another night while I had the chance.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this!