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Friday, October 19, 2007

Music: Live Review -- Stars Shine at Town Hall

Stars -- Amy Millan, call me!

Canada's biggest export these days seems to be the kind of bands Sasha Frere-Jones loves to hate -- sincere indie rock that looks to postpunk for inspiration and wouldn't know a funk beat if it bit them on the ass. So it is with Stars, who were in New York last night touring behind their new album In Our Bedroom After The War. Singer and whirling dervish Torquil Campbell spent as much time marveling over the ornate interior of Town Hall as he did singing, but when he and angel-voiced Amy Millan did sing it made a glorious noise indeed. The band tore it up as well, with Pat McGee's drumming and Andrew Whiteman's guitar playing notably vigorous.

More important was the fact that the new songs shook off the shackles of their overproduction live, revealing "My Favorite Book" and "Window Bird" as the hidden gems they are. Of course the crowd really wanted to hear tracks from 2005's breakthrough album Set Yourself On Fire and they went wild for "Reunion" and "Ageless Beauty", and "Soft Revolution" was a definite highlight.

Both Campbell and Millan were a joy to watch: They switched off on instruments with Millan playing a flute at one point and Campbell busting out with a trumpet several times. For the most part Millan bopped around with a guitar strapped around her and Campbell led the crowd in clap-alongs, emerging in a suit of lights for one song and finally ending the show by wading into the audience and making his way all the way out to the back of the theatre.

This is a band not to be missed live, even if you feel lukewarm about the new album. They open everything up and their dedication and passion is infectious. Below is a clip of them earlier this year playing "The Night Starts Here" in a much smaller venue than Town Hall.

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