Stars – Mr. Small’s, Pittsburgh Pa.

Stars singer and guitarist Amy Millan slashed her finger open on Sunday and was rushed to one of Pittsburgh fine UPMC based hospitals where she was given six stitches. That night, she had a show at Mr. Small’s where she was expected to play. Play she did, and not a bit of the band’s 90-minute set was weakened by her stitched up digit. What a trooper!

This opening is my way of saying that not a thing could have ruined Stars performance on March 30th. The show opened with the delightful electronic loop from the first track, “The Beginning After The End,” on their album In Our Bedroom After The War. The band took the stage one by one as the loop became “The Night Starts Here,” and they slowly added their instrumentation, filling out the sound. Finally, Millan’s voice carries over the crowd, clear and pure as a bell, telling us “Forget your name / Forget your fear,” and we do, letting the music completely absorb us.

Across the stage were scattered bundles and bouquets of white flowers with red roses nestled in them. At various points throughout the show, handfuls of rose petals would be scattered overhead, left to flutter into the crowd. Band members would randomly grab the roses themselves, and fling them to the audience, letting fans know how much they were loved by the band.

Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Torquil Campbell is, as Tyra might put it, fierce. His performance style has a seductive charm that is intense, frightening, and, actually, quite sexy. He explains to us, “I spent 4 weeks in Pittsburgh a few years back trying to make a girl fall in love with me. So, it’s a very romantic place for me….because there’s nothing more romantic than failing to make someone fall in love with you.” The audience is mesmerized as he uses his anecdote as a lead in to “Reunion” from “Set Yourself On Fire.”

By the end of the show, every rose on the stage is in the hands of an audience member, as the band exits the way they entered…one by one, taking the time to distribute the last of those flowers. The air is different in the church cum venue, and we all feel changed.

Highlights include “One More Night (Your Ex-Lover Remains Dead),” “Personal,” “Soft Revolution,” “My Favourite Book,” and one of the final songs of the encore, “Calender Girl” wherein Campbell got as much in the crowds’ face as possible and nearly demanded that they scream back to him “I’m Alive!”

Hands down. By far. The best show I have attended in the past year. This review may be short, but that is merely because words cannot adequately express the experience had by seeing Stars live.

Stars: website | myspace



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