Montreal's Stars took the stage an air condition-less Mod Club to play their new album The Five Ghosts from front to back.
It's always hard when a band reveals never-before-heard music to a live audience. I can only imagine the feeling playing a song you have worked on for months to a crowd full of people who are just staring back at you with a face devoid of emotion, trying to listen intently to where this song is going. This is why it's very brave of Torquil Campbell (vocals, keys), Amy Millan (vocals, guitar), Evan Cranley (guitar, bass), Chris Seligman (keys), and Pat McGee (drums) to reveal The Five Ghosts to a sold-out Mod Club. On the plus side, Stars are much loved in Toronto, so really what's the worst that could happen? The venue's air conditioning breaking down? Ok, well how about second worst?
The new material is pretty much what you'd expect. Beautiful pop songs that feature Amy and Torquil swapping vocals are Stars trademark sound, however it is very noticeable that synths, while used slightly in their past albums, are being brought to the forefront. A lot of The Five Ghosts has a dancey, almost 80's sound to it, as heard in the album's lead single "Fixed". Highlights of their first set were "Dead Hearts", the Amy-sung 60's pop tinged "Never Been Good With Change", and the eerie piano-led "Winter Bones". The crowd received every song well, swaying to the slower songs and moving slightly to the faster ones, and it was clear that Stars appreciated the positive response.
I must commend Stars for taking great care of the crowd, as bottles of water were constantly being passed out to the people near the front of the stage. Torquil even took the time to warn anyone who had a camera out to put it safely away before sprinkling water onto the sweltering people in front of him. The band also continued to throw flowers, which adorned the entire stage, into the crowd, and the between-song banter was both charming and humerous.
After the album was played in it's entirety, Stars took a 5 minute break before returning to the stage to play a selection of their most beloved songs as chosen by fans through the band's website. The audience's enthusiasm definitely picked up at this point, jumping around to "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead", "Take Me To The Riot", and "Ageless Beauty", and it was great to hear older favourites like "Elevator Love Letter" and "Heart".
Make sure you pick up The Five Ghosts when it is released on June 22nd.