Live Performance Reviews

Review: Stars Grants Fans’ Wishes with a Sparkling Performance in Portland’s Aladdin Theatre

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On March 3, 2015, the 800-seat Neptune Theatre in Seattle was filled to the brim as the Toronto-based indie rock band Stars performed a sold-out show as a part of their 2015 North American winter tour. One would think that such brilliant success would twinkle over to Portland, Oregon, the next evening. However, it was quite a shock to find out that the 500-seat Aladdin Theatre in Bridge City hadn’t even busted the seams of the box office bank on March 4.

Don’t be fooled, though, because the amount of energy within the venue certainly made up for the lack of attendees. In fact, the moment Stars lit up the stage with their presence, the crowd immediately went wild and eagerly danced and sang along to “From the Night,” the lead single and opening track of their most recent album, No One Is Lost, which couldn’t have been a better selection of music to set the tone for the rest of the night.

Cries of “We love you, Amy!” “Yeah, girl!” and “We love you so much!” could be heard from the crowd periodically throughout the evening as frontwoman Amy Millan and frontman Torquil Campbell belted their souls out.

When bands tour after an album is recently released, it’s typical for them to play a string of new songs and put less current singles on the backburner. Stars, however, never fails to deliver older gems, and they did so toward the beginning of their performance with “Fixed” and “We Don’t Want Your Body,” which are both from their fifth studio album, The Five Ghosts. The band also pulled “Dead Hearts,” “One More Night (Your Ex-Lover Remains Dead),” “Elevator Love Letter,” “Take Me to the Riot,” and “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” out from their treasure trove of classic, fan-favorite hits.

If anyone in the crowd has ever had any doubts about Campbell holding the ability to sing in an operatic manner, they were proven wrong that night. During “You Keep Coming Up” from No One Is Lost, the male counterpart of Stars showed off his high notes with heartfelt “ohhs” and “ahhs” that resulted in positive howls from the audience. Torq’s vocals weren’t the extent of his sense of passion, though. During the show, he admitted the band’s awareness of not having as big of a fan base in Portland but expressed their appreciation toward the small cluster of support they do have in the city.

“We weren’t sure anybody would come, and we’re so happy you’re here,” Campbell confessed. “We remember playing in Portland to six people… but that was back before the internet and you became sexual partners.”

It really is true that cities and their venues can make a big impact on the turnout of shows, not to mention the personality of each crowd. After previously attending a Stars show almost exactly two years ago at the 1100-seat capacity Metro in Chicago that was sold out, it was a drastic change experiencing their music live in a smaller, less-packed environment, but the change was good.

An advantage to seeing Stars in a smaller, more intimate setting is that the audience appears to be more loyal. Compared to their show in The Windy City, the crowd in Portland seemed more attentive and respectful. There was little to no talking during each set, along with a considerably larger amount of participation through clapping and singing along to songs (especially the older ones) word-for-word. Despite the venue, city, or number of attendees, it’s safe to say that the love of Stars in the U.S. will not be burning out anytime soon.

Set list

“From the Night”

“We Don’t Want Your Body”


“You Keep Coming Up”

“This Is the Last Time”

“Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It”

“Look Away”

“Dead Hearts”

“Trap Door”

“One More Night (Your Ex-Lover Remains Dead)”

“Elevator Love Letter”

“Take Me to the Riot”

“Your Ex-Lover Is Dead”

“No One is Lost”


“Are You OK?”

“What Is To Be Done?”