Live Bait: Stars lay golden eggs of love, etc.

Stars and Young Galaxy
@Burton Cummings Theatre
October 29, 2010

The Burton Cummings Theatre has played host to a huge number of exceptional artists over the years. October 29’s show was no different, with indie acts Young Galaxy and Stars gracing the stage for two stellar performances that stand up with some of the best the theatre has seen in recent years.
Young Galaxy was charged with getting the night started, serenading the crowd with their dreamy brand of pop.  The Montreal four-piece is a Canadian band that is sounding more and more like a U.K. band, something not lost on the group as they focused their brief-but-powerful set around some of the more danceable numbers in their catalog. Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless swapped vocal duties on the thundering opener, “Destroyer,” rousing the crowd to the front of the stage and making it clear that this is a band best experienced live.
“The Buzz In My Flesh” and “Outside The City” hooked the crowd with pulsing rhythms and McCandless’s icy vocals echoing out across the hall at all the right moments. She was never better than when clawing her way across the stage during “Queen Drum,” though her voice managed to bring the entire theatre to a hush with a crashing rendition “Firestruck.”
Ramsay gave his thanks to the headlining Stars, describing them as “golden eagles coming to drop golden eggs of love” into the audiences’ hearts. Joking aside, the bands’ huge crescendos coupled with McCandless’s mesmerizing stage presence made for the perfect lead up to the act to come.
Stars quickly took to the stage to deliver a tightly packed 100-minute set, launching into a haunting performance of “He Dreams He Is Awake” and calling the audience to their feet. Torquil Campbell illuminated the room from the stage with a handheld floodlight, announcing, “There’s a lot of beautiful ghosts in the building.” The band moved effortlessly between older pop numbers like “Elevator Love Letter” and newer electro cuts off this year’s The Five Ghosts LP, endlessly captivating the audience the whole way through.
Though much of the set was filled with swirling layers of synthesizers and electronic percussion, the best songs were those when the band took a reprieve from their posts to deliver an “unplugged” performance. Amy Millan and bassist Evan Cranley took presented and delicate acoustic rendition of “Ageless Beauty” while sitting centre stage upon a white bench. Shortly after, Campbell and Millan shared the mic on “The Woods,” flanked by Cranley and keyboardist Chris Seligmanon trombone and French horn, respectively. The crowd was silent during these two stunning numbers, lending even more intimacy to the moment.
Stars’ encore once again brought the audience to their feet, swaying and clapping along to “I Died So I Could Haunt You” and “Reunion” while Campbell and Millan danced across the stage, stomping their feet recklessly in time. The night was brought to a close with the softer “Changes,” and before the band bounded off the stage, Campbell was sure to graciously thank his audience, calling them the best Winnipeg audience he’s seen.
Kevan Hannah