Wednesday, April 19, 2006When the Stars come out...
Why are all bands from Montreal so amazing? I just don't understand it, but it sure as hell makes me want to to Montreal and soak up some amazingness. Maybe I'd just find some quirky peeps in their mid-to-late twenties and start writing songs in museums (or something) which get so close to the bone that it is almost relieving, which describe closest exactly what it feels like to be alive and, simply, to feel. That's what Stars, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade etcetera etcetera do to me. So, as you might imagine, Stars' concert at Magnet in Berlin last Friday night was a very special evening.
Rather than the usual Berliner laissez-faire attitude to gigs (turn up at 10pm, drink/smoke/clap sometimes), gig-spot stand-off was already operational at 9pm, the crowd of eager romantics holding firm for the coveted front spots. After excellent support from fellow Arts and Crafts band, The Most Serene Republic, Stars took to the stage to a rapturous reception. On stage they looked a motley crew - no group "aesthetic", no stupid hair - more of a group of different people, normal people, people who've lived a bit, on a stage with instuments and wearing their favourite outfit. The experience of life which marks their music so poignantly, and perhaps characterises the difference between the Montreal scene and, say, those scruffy Arctic Monkeys - fun? Yes. Moving? Only in a fairly shallow and quick way. I guess they ultimately serve different purposes and markets, so it is perhaps an unfair criticism.
Stars swooned and swooshed through a good hour and a half's worth of material, drawn mostly from last year's Set Yourself On Fire, but with a fair smattering from 2003's Heart and some others. Their lush compositions, with strings, horns, trumpets, keys, guitars, yageddit, made me think of movie soundtracks the whole way through - landscapes of sound creating and conjuring atmosphere. When introducing "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" for the encore, main singer, Torquil, explained how the band want to make the sountrack to moments and feelings of the films and dramas that are people's lives. It's been said before, but it felt so sincere, and everything about the whole band seems so genuine that you simply had to believe him 100%. I've only been at one gig where people hugged strangers after the show was over (No Doubt at the Scala, London, 23rd January 2002), but last Friday night at Magnet felt close to that. I bumped into Elizabeth and danced, failed to play pool, and tried/failed to get a kareoke booth at Monster Ronson's. A great night, all in all.