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It's a Nuclear Show..
Saturday nights in neon lights..

Good God, that was an awesome gig.. If there was any doubt before that Stars are my favourite band, that's all gone now.. I mean seriously...

The opened with 'Take Me to the Riot', which is a new song.. I had neglected to get their album in advance, which meant there was quite a bit of new material. Fortunately I was at the front, up against the barrier, which meant I could read the setlist of the stage. Something about being able to see the names of the songs really helps me mentally file away the experience so that later on I can recall each new song as an individual thing rather than just a mess of unfamiliar music.

Take Me to the Riot is a great song, though the album version isn't quite as good.. Something about the energy they managed to put into the live performance just makes it that little bit more authentic. It's a good opener, anyway..

Let's Roll...

Next came Set Yourself on Fire, which hadn't previously been among my favourite songs, but it really grew on me.. Again, possibly something about the energy in it, and maybe the fact that the word "Stars" appears in it. I can't explain it fully, but for some reason Stars song that have the word "Stars" make me tingle, and I have no idea why.

That was followed by Elevator Love Letter, which is possibly my favourite song of the decade. There are only two experiences that could compare to hearing this - Love to Hate You by Erasure and They Stood Up For Love by Live. I note that all three songs include the word "Love", but I think it's likely to be a coincidence.. Anyway, as good as the other two performances were, I think this one still wins. Oh, wait, Lifehouse.. Okay, well this comes in equal first place with Everything and Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse for the sheer joy of hearing it live. I got quite tingly all over..

If memory serves, a couple of new songs followed.. The Ghost of Genova Heights, and Bitches in Tokyo. The former was 'okay', couldn't honestly say I thought it was anything special.. Bitches in Tokyo actually worked very well, it has a really powerful and upbeat sounding chorus, and it reminds me of something.. Not sure what, but it's something that I really love, mostly in the vocals - Amy Millan's voice sounded really good on it. Actually, on that subject..

I have to say, appearance-wise they weren't how I expected.. Torq is a good deal shorter than I had been expecting, though I have a certain affinity for short Canadian rockers, so it's okay. Amy Millan is a funny one though.. I never previously thought she was attractive, though this probably has something to do with not being at all photogenic. And at the very start of the gig, she didn't seem that good looking. But then as they got into it, she became suddenly a lot more attractive. She plays guitar well (which is automatically hot in women), she looks like she's having lots of fun on the stage, and she has the cutest smile in the music industry. And she has possibly my favourite voice out of any artist who has ever lived. But back to the music side of things..

Take off that dress you won't freeze...

Next came One More Night, which came across really well.. I like the fact that parts of it are very much about the vocals, with little instrumental interludes (for which Torq played his trumpet). Again, not one of my favourites on the album, but it worked well live. You really get the sense that the band love playing together, and that there's a real cohesion there. It made the whole thing so much more fun, because it looked like they were having fun. Amy and Evan seemed to like the bouncing about together stuff, and Amy and Torq did lots of their duet bits into the same mic, which helps.

Next, I believe, was Personal - another new song. Listening to the album version, it sounds really relaxed and peaceful. I don't really remember how it worked live now, it didn't stick in the head very well. But it's nice enough on the album. That was followed by Look Up, which was awesome. I love that song very much, and the vocals sounded beautiful live.. I'm not sure what I can really say about it, except that it was a pleasant surprise that it was on the setlist, and it came across exactly as I would have hoped.

Then came Soft Revolution, which if I'm totally honest, I can rarely tell apart from Set Yourself On Fire - the two songs are kind of similar in the way that they come across. And again, I loved the energy that went into the first half, and how nice and sedate the latter part of the song was..

You look so good in the clothes of a poser..

At this point my recollection of the order of the songs starts to kind of fall apart, but I think Trying to Say came up roughly next.. Stars are rather good - in addition to being able to sing in tune, they can also shout in tune too, which really works in a song like this.. You can't help but want to sing along to the chorus, and it was another of those album tracks that never really appealed but which came across really well. I have a feeling I've said that about most of these songs, but it's a general theme for the gig.

Somewhere around here was Midnight Coward, which is another new song. I don't really have much to say about this song, though I do really like it.. It falls into the category of "generically good Stars songs" - very much in line with their overall style, and a good song.

There was a new song next, but it wasn't on the setlist, so I don't know exactly which one it was. Anyway, it quickly ended and Your Ex-Lover Is Dead came on. This was another of the songs that I was really hoping to hear live, and it didn't disappoint. The vocals were beautiful, and it was just like the album version, just more..

Underestimated, undefeated..

Then came Ageless Beauty, which was awesome.. Lots of dancing around for that one, because you just have to... Not much to say, just generally very good..

They closed the main part of the gig with In Our Bedroom After the War, which is another new one, and is the title track of their new album. It's a beautiful song, that kind of reminds me of songs like The Aspidistra Flies or Tonight, just for general prettiness. A good song to finish on, quite moving, and the vocals were once again stunning.

There's something about the voices.. Torq sounds a lot like Paul Heaton (if I'm remembering that correctly) from The Beautiful South, which pretty much explains why I love it.. I know he's Canadian, but there's something kind of British about his accent, both in singing and speaking. It's hard to explain properly, but it just means I really like the whole thing. I honestly feel like if I played this song for somebody who'd never heard of Stars, they could mistake it for The Beautiful South in bits..

And I've probably mentioned Amy Millan's voice more than a couple of times, so I won't dwell on that. Suffice it to say, based on the various Stars albums I've got I already thought it was the best voice I'd ever heard, and the gig has done nothing but confirm that. Once more, back to the music..

The encore opened with Reunion, which meant lots of bouncing around. High energy, nice and loud (though being at the front I was virtually in front of the speakers, which is part of that).. That was followed by another new song, but in the absence of a set-list for the encore, I have no idea which one it was. Hence my point about being able to mentally file the songs away for future reference - knowing the name helps a bundle.

I dreamed I was dying as I so often do..

The show ended on Calendar Girl, which was another pleasant surprise. I had assumed it would end on Heart or something, rather than on a beautiful, vocally-oriented song. It was a great choice, and the fact that the guitar at the end could be very long and drawn out was good - at the end of a really good gig, you just want to have the last few moments prolonged..

Overall, it was quite possibly the best gig I've ever been to. I'd like to say it's unquestionably the best ever, but it's very easy to say that the next day, when the memories of all other gigs have pretty much been obliterated. Certainly possibly the best one. Time and perspective will tell. The worst part of it was not having Naomi with me.. She's currently injured in the foot region, which means a trek to London was probably not a good idea. Not to mention the fact that I got home at about 1:40am this morning, which wouldn't have been so great either.

I very nearly didn't go, I had some moments of uncertainty (and some where I was certain that I wasn't going). In the end I'm glad I decided to go - I can take Naomi with me next time, and the time after that, and the time after that too. Because after this gig, I've decided that when they're back in this country, I need to see them several times. If this hadn't been the last gig of the tour, I would have definitely found myself some more tickets.

Overall, in spite of how much better it would have been if Naomi had been with me, it was a bloody amazing gig, and I'm so happy I went. I look forward to them coming back - as far as bands go, Stars are perfection :o)