Photos of Stars at The Fillmore [Live Review]

10/23/2012

Photographs by Leticia Molina

It’s fascinating to witness a band’s evolution–be it through their live performance or musical catalogue. It’s even more fascinating when, through the years, the band only seems to get better. This is the case for Canadian indie pop band, Stars, who have been together since the late 90’s.

The band performed to a sold out Fillmore auditorium on Saturday night along their “North Tour.” They were almost unrecognizable in comparison to the Stars I saw open for Death Cab for Cutie nearly seven years ago. This first encounter I had with Stars stung like a bad break up. It was emotionally profound and memorable, but nonetheless left me feeling dreary and confused. The presentation, back then, was much less coherent. I vividly remember Amy Millan’s signature sweet angelic voice clashing with her saggy jeans and leather biker jacket–looking like she belonged at a dive bar, but sounding like she sung in the church choir. The band sang love songs full of heartbreak, however both Millan and fellow lead singer, Torquil Campbell, had no onstage chemistry. You could hear the passion in each of their voices but they were two separate forces that lacked the unity of a solid pop band.

The Stars I saw perform in 2005 was quickly forgotten as soon as they took stage at the Fillmore Saturday night. The entire band looked quite dapper. Campbell sported a suit and tie and Millan was dolled up in a black fringe dress with some killer satiny heels. They dressed the part and they played the part. As they flawlessly jammed through hits like “The Theory of Relativity” and “Take Me to the Riot” they engaged the crowd with their on stage charm. They played no songs off their first and probably darkest album, Nightsongs, but rather stuck to their newer work, brilliantly performing their upbeat sixth LP, The North, in its entirety.

A highlight of the evening was when a close friend of the band, local San Francisco violinist (whose name I did not catch), joined Stars on stage for an epic performance of “Your Ex Lover is Dead.” The whole show that night felt like a singalong, but this song in particular had every person in attendance belting out the lyrics. For the entire last verse Campbell pointed the microphone to the crowd as they sung in perfectly enunciated unison: “I’m not sorry I met you, I’m not sorry it’s over, I’m not sorry there’s nothing to save…I’m not sorry there’s nothing to save.”

Setlist
1. The Theory of Relativity
2. Fixed
3. A Song Is a Weapon
4. Ageless Beauty
5. The North
6. We Don’t Want Your Body
7. Through the Mines
8. Midnight Coward
9. Your Ex-Lover is Dead
10. Backlines
11. Do You Want to Die Together?
12. Soft Revolution
13. Lights Changing Colour
14. Dead Hearts
15. Elevator Love Letter
16. Look Up
17. Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It
18. Take Me to the Riot
19. Walls

(Encore)
20. Progress
21. One More Night
22. The 400