Monday, February 20, 2006

Setting Yourself On Fire Never Sounded So Good

mel

There's something uniquely Canadian about a couple thousand people bundling up to stand in -25*C weather on the world's largest skating rink, to listen to a free show by an equally bundled up band.



For the closing weekend of Winterlude, Ottawa's annual winter festival, Montreal's Stars took to the makeshift stage built on top of the Rideau Canal, to play an hour and a half free set (did I mention it was free?), on what I will attest to as being one of the coldest nights of the year.

"We've been playing a lot of shows in the States, and our countries have a lot in common... we both have idiots running our countries, but there are differences. This would never happen in the US. There's no way we could get people out here on a night like this in the US," Torquil Campbell, lead male vocalist, said to those in attendance.

Now, I'm not sure if that's a testament to how much we like our catchy, romantic indie-pop here above the 49th parallel, or a commentary on our lack of concern in maintaining a healthy core body temperature, but either way, he seemed pretty happy about it.

Despite the fact that setting ourselves on fire was sounding more and more appealing as the set continued, energy remained high. The extreme weather created a bond between the performers and the crowd, as Campbell and fellow singer Amy Millan cheered everyone on almost as much as audience did for them. Between numbers, Campbell led intervals of jumping, to encourage blood flow to the extremities of concert-goers.

Even aside from the band/fan camaraderie, Stars' show was excellent. Songs performed ranged from recognizable tracks from their most recent release, "Set Yourself On Fire", like 'The Big Fight', and 'Your Ex-Lover Is Dead', to the first single to garner attention from their sophomore album Heart, 'Elevator Love Letter', as well as a few surprises thrown in, like a cover of Bruce Springsteen's 'Hungry Heart'.

The most striking performance was, unsurprisingly, the last of the encore, 'Calendar Girl'. The song exemplifies the give and take vocal style of the band, with verse and chorus being tossed back and forth between Campbell and Millan. When it reached the end, the band faded out, Campbell left the mike behind, leaned out into the crowd repeating the last line, "I'm alive" without any technical help. Instead of joining in, the crowd fell quiet and listened to his voice drift out through the frigid air, over their heads. The show then ended with Campbell congratulating everyone on living through the night.

I stood on a snowbank for the whole show. I was seriously becoming concerned with how I had lost feeling in my big toes, and it took a lot of self control not to run directly for the closest thing emanating any kind of heat, but this was the perfect way to see one of my favourite bands perform. Everyone who went to the free show paid their admittance by slipping a little too close for comfort towards hypothermia, and it was totally worth it.

Mel is fondly known as the resident concert reviewer here at Mocking Music but she's also known as DJ mel on Radio@UPEI. Check out playlists of some past shows and the shows themselves.


Download:
Stars - Going Going Gone (Live KEXP 2002)
Stars - Aspidistra Files (Live KEXP 2002)
Stars - The Woods (Live KEXP 2002)
Stars - Look Up (Live KEXP 2003)
Stars - Life Effect (Live KEXP 2003)
Stars - Heart (Live KEXP 2003)
Stars - Sleep Tonight (Live KEXP 2004)
Stars - Soft Revolution (Live KEXP 2004)
Stars - Big Fight (Live KEXP 2004)
Stars - Reunion (Live KEXP 2005)
Stars - Your Ex-Lover is Dead (Live KEXP 2005)
Stars - On Peak Hill (Live KEXP 2005)
Stars - Calendar Girl (Live KEXP 2005)

Related:
All Mocking Music Concert Reviews

Comments on "Setting Yourself On Fire Never Sounded So Good"

 

Anonymous Jessica said ... (20/2/06 6:42 pm) : 

I am so happy that you wrote this because Stars is my favourite band EVER. Do you think we'll be able to find a copy of their Bruce Springsteen cover? That would make my DAY!

Thanks again for the post, and have a lovely week!

Jess

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (20/2/06 6:49 pm) : 

I saw Stars here in L.A. about a week ago and it was amazing. If you find a copy of Hungry Heart, please post it!

 

Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (20/2/06 7:11 pm) : 

I did my best to search it out, but as far as I can tell, there's no mp3s of it . . . yet.

 

Blogger mel said ... (20/2/06 7:17 pm) : 

It's a shame an mp3 of that doesn't exist, it was definately a highlight of the show. Amy sounded fantastic in it.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (21/2/06 2:55 am) : 

I've been looking for live Stars for so long. Thank you so much! (Got any other recordings?)

Peak Hill has changed its live arrangement... Very nice.

-Derek-

 

Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (21/2/06 3:33 am) : 

Afraid that's all we have to offer at the present. I didn't have any live Stars either - I just recorded these from wma streams online to accompany mel's excellent article.

 

Blogger Allison said ... (21/2/06 9:27 pm) : 

thanks so much for the post! i saw stars in portland a couple weeks ago and they are amazing, live and otherwise. i appreciate the tracks!

 

Anonymous paul said ... (23/2/06 10:57 am) : 

Stop listening to the CBC and take a look where the 49th actually lies.
Then ponder what percentage of the population live "south of the 49th"

 

Blogger mel said ... (23/2/06 2:28 pm) : 

It's a commonly used expression to describe Canada. I realize when you move east of Manitoba, the country dips south, but dude, relax. You knew what I meant, didn't you?

 

Blogger jspaceman said ... (24/2/06 7:16 pm) : 

Great stuff- thank you!

 

Anonymous Jessica said ... (26/2/06 4:54 pm) : 

HUNGRY HEART! I FOUND IT!

(scroll to bottom!)

http://www.arts-crafts.ca/forum/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=2354&posts=44

 

Anonymous jess said ... (26/2/06 5:16 pm) : 

oops, i pointed you to the wrong page - go to the first page, and the link to the entire show is there somewhere

 

Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (26/2/06 5:40 pm) : 

Oh wow, you're my new favourite person. I wonder what the next full album friday will be . . . ? :)

 

Anonymous jess said ... (26/2/06 6:27 pm) : 

i mean well, really i do! so make sure you read the entire post, cos i just realized that the first link on the post is the ENTIRE SET in a HUGE mp3, but on the second page the poster links the spliced set. so take note of that. sorry again :( :( :(

 

Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (26/2/06 7:25 pm) : 

Yeah, I noticed that - getting the second half now. Am really curious to hear the cover too.

One day until mocking music is one year old. :P

 

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