Stars with Shamir at Vogue Theatre, 6/12/18
Tuesday night was no ordinary weeknight, as one of Canada’s best pop acts visited the Vogue Theatre. The members of Stars have been making elegant indie-pop together for over 15 years and Tuesday marked night two of their tour in support of their latest album, 2017’s There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light.
The Montreal band was joined by the young up-and-coming singer-songwriter out of Las Vegas known as Shamir. It was quite the odd pairing, the middle-aged band of well seasoned musicians with the 23-year-old still trying to find his footing in the music world.
Twenty minutes to show time, the large floor of the Vogue was deserted, audience members choosing to take a seat in one of the hundreds of red cushion chairs rather than be the first to stand on the intimidatingly empty floor in front of the stage. Slowly however, groups began making their way to the stage and Shamir was greeted by about 50 standing faces when he walked out. This was the young artist’s first of eight shows with Stars, joining them for the Western leg of the tour, and there was a charming awkwardness about him as he greeted the crowd. Sporting a double bun hairstyle with a butterfly clip, he was constantly bashful and full of giggles throughout the set.
Accompanied by a drummer with no hi-hat and a spunky female bassist, Shamir owned the guitar, playing with a smooth confidence, fully removed of his nervous energy. The most prominent instrument of the set however, was his countertenor vocals. His voice rings at a pitch that is almost physically unimaginable until you see it in person. Four albums in, his set was comprised of several songs showing off the indie-rock direction he’s been heading after his first album.
Shamir broke onto the scene with his 2015 debut of electronic-infused pop tracks, but has since changed course and didn’t touch a single song off that album, not even his breakthrough hit, “On the Regular.” The three members exited quickly after the final song, “Glass,” a fuzzy chill-rocker off his latest that seemed to struggle during the chorus. Regardless, Shamir proved to be a likeable performer and the flamboyant and giddy North Las Vegas native seems to be on the right track to fully discovering his sound.
With a packed floor, the lights dropped and Stars’ frontman Torquil Campbell, glass held high, led that band on stage accompanied by a gorgeous orchestral musical piece that set the standard for what this band encompasses. They opened with the shining track, taken from the title of their latest release, “Fluorescent Light.” Stars is so good at doing what they do. It was made apparent from the moment they walked on stage.
Campbell, along with their leading lady Amy Millan, have a chemistry that spans beyond a decade-and-a-half of working together and it was easy to see as they performed together throughout the set. Both currently residing in Vancouver, they each gave shout outs to family members in attendance early in the set. “…So, if you see anyone who looks like us,” quipped Campbell, “please buy them a drink.” “Or smoke them up, they also like that,” Millan added.
The six members of Stars are not the 20-somethings they were when this band began, but they clearly haven’t lost the energy from their younger days. Stars’ vibe has always been about living life to the fullest and they certainly exude that on stage. Campbell was seen smiling madly at members of the crowd during the set and appeared light on his feet as he made his way around the stage.
Stars played a good mix of new and old, with at least one song from each album aside from their first, and a couple of songs released this year. There was not one moment of, “Ok, I’m ready for the next song.” It was a truly engaging and thrilling performance from beginning to end. The night ended with possibly their biggest song, 2004’s “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead.” If you’ve yet to discover Stars, this song makes for a great place to start.
Ship To Shore
Elevator Love Song
Theory of Relativity
Take Me to the Riot
Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It
One Day Left
No One Is Lost
One More Night
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead