Stars & Hey Rosetta! @ Vogue -- 02/28/15

Five years ago this month, I saw Stars with Hey Rosetta! opening for them at the Orpheum. It was a great show, which Hey Rosetta! nearly stole, so much so that Torquil even said something along the lines of "that's the last time they ever open for anyone!"
Well, I'm glad that's not quite the case, as the pair of bands wrapped up a Canadian tour with a pair of sold out shows this weekend at the Vogue Theatre.

I was even more excited given the fact that I hadn't even seen Hey Rosetta! live in almost four years.
In front of a giant golden backdrop, they filled the stage, seven members large (eight, when Stars' Evan Cranley joined them part-way thought the set), with everything from violin, cello, french horn, xylophone, members occasionally switching around, playing different instruments. The big band created Hey Rosetta!'s lush, sonic wall of sound, with powerful songs that erupted into a swell of strings and horns.

Starting off with a "Soft Offering (For the Oft Suffering)", and lead singer Tim Baker behind the keyboard, a lone spotlight on him before the rest of the band joined in. They grew the intensity with "Gold Teeth" and finally exploded with "Yer Spring", culminating in a jam that saw Tim Baker, now on guitar, taking a running leap off hey keyboard stool. Other highlights included "Red Heart", which had a little bit of "Black Heart" slipped in, and the incredibly emotional "Welcome". They ended with the beautiful "Bandages", starting with Tim on acoustic guitar before the rest of the band slowly joined in.

They played a nice, hour-long set which made it feel more like a co-headlining spot than an opening spot, which was as it should be. And I especially liked the lighting for their set. A lot of it was backlit -- but not so much that you couldn't see the band -- and a few times, they would dim the stage lights with a spotlight on the prominent instruments. It was a nice touch.

Soft Offering (For The Oft Suffering), Gold Teeth, Yer Spring, What Arrows, Young Glass, Neon Beyond, Red Heart / Black Heart, Kintsukuroi, Welcome, Bandages.

After a quick break, Stars immediately got the sold out theatre dancing with "From The Night" the first song off their latest album, No One Is Lost. The amazing energy from the whole band was immediately apparent, especially lead singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan. Besides both putting a great amount of passion into their singing, Torquil danced like he didn't care, and more than once Amy could be seen air-drumming along to Pat McGee.

As their shows are wont to do, the set spanned every possible emotion. From the vitriolic "We Don't Want Your Body" to the heartbreaking "Dead Hearts", from the bitter "One More Night" to the gorgeous "Elevator Love Letter", no one can go from love to death, from joy to sorrow, faster or better than Stars.
But the absolute highlight of the set was one of my favourite Stars songs, "Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It". The song started and half of Hey Rosetta! emerged on stage in 80's gear, neon spandex and headbands, with an amazing choreographed dance to go along with the song. And perhaps because of that, if lifted both Torq and Amy for an amazing performance; I actually got chills as Torquil spat out the lines "But if you like it sing along / Sing 'cause you don't know how to say it" and "Take the weakest thing in you / And then beat the bastards with it". 

The set drew to a close after a rousing "Take Me To The Riot" with the opening synth of the title track to No One Is Lost started for the final song, only for Torquil to interrupt and make sure to slip in one more song. And after an incredibly heartfelt love letter to the fans, he got out his melodica for the opening strains of "Your Ex-Lover is Dead", the crowd singing along to every single word. 

For the encore, Amy and Evan Cranley came out alone, joined on backup vocals by Kinley Dowling of Hey Rosetta! by popular demand, for the soft and lovely "Favourite Book", before the rest of the band emerged. They did a quick audience poll for the last song, with "Calendar Girl" winning out, as they ended the night with Amy Millan's gorgeous vocals, and the conclusion of the song seeing Torquil drop his mic, rip out his in-ear monitors, and jump down into the crowd, yelling at the top of his lungs the final words of the song, "I'm alive"

It's ridiculously cheesy to put into words, but there's something about seeing Stars perform live that just makes me want to be better. Seeing the love the band has for their music, for each other, for the fans, even for Hey Rosetta! is quite something, and as long as they keep making music, I will keep showing up.

From The Night, Fixed, We Don't Want Your Body, Backlines, You Keep Coming Up, A Song is a Weapon, Are You Okay?, Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It, Look Away, Dead Hearts, Trap Door, One More Night, Elevator Love Letter, Take Me To The Riot, Your Ex-Lover Is Dead, No One Is Lost.
(encore) My Favourite Book, Calendar Girl.

Hey Rosetta! @ Peak Performance Lounge -- 07/15/11

Since The Peak began having shows in their performance lounge, I have wanted to go, but just never had the chance (they're all win-to-get-in). But earlier today Hey Rosetta! dropped by and I was lucky enough to be able to go. It was an intimate, acoustic show in the lounge with about 50 or so people, and sofas arranged for comfortable viewing. (But also stool-chairs for slightly less than comfortable viewing).

The band played a handful of songs, and even stripped down they managed to pack a powerful punch of emotion to the songs. They played a few of their slower songs, starting with "Bandages" and also the absolutely beautiful "Red Song", one of my favourites of theirs that I don't think I've seen them play live. But they also managed to rock out with "Welcome", and they ended the set announcing they were going to do a cover -- I was hoping it would be "Time After Time" like earlier this year, but it ended up being "Do What You Can Do" by The Constantines.

It was a short, but still great show, and I was glad I was able to catch them since I will miss them tonight (they're playing Deer Lake Park with The Tragically Hip, while I will be enjoying Joel Plaskett Emergency at the Folk Fest.)

Bandages, Young Glass, Red Heart, Red Song, Welcome, Do What You Can Do [Constantines cover].