Concert Review: Stars and Hey Rosetta! @ Métropolis – Montreal

The attendants, who braced the cold for the double bill at Metropolis last Thursday, were in for quite a treat. Two Canadian indie-rock veterans, Hey Rosetta! and Stars, were in attendance!

Hey Rosetta!’s performance got off to a bit of a hesitant and sluggish start. In relation to the other times I have seen them play, it seemed as though they were finding their footing and warming up. But we can’t blame Tim Baker as it was the start of their supporting tour with Stars and he did seem a bit under the weather. Baker did disclose to the sea of people that he spent most of the day in bed, instead of what he wished to be doing – walking down the mountain, “eating bagels and watching babes”. Despite a few hiccups to his vocals here and there, which the New Brunswick outfit laughed off, – it seemed that Baker was either forgetting some of the words or briefly stepping away from the microphone not to strain his voice – they were impeccable. Moreover, even the set that spanned Into Your Lungs to Second Sight wasn’t visibly affected by this either.

“What Arrows” off of their recent effort Second Sight definitely received the praise it deserved, flaunting its intense and sensual side, fitting in perfectly with the rest of their performance. Baker also made sure to give a nod to the birthplace and recording of Second Sight at MixArt Studios in Montreal by Marcus Paquin (The National, Arcade Fire).

The rest of the set seemed to flow nicely with highs and lows, showing that maybe this show was trial-and-error for both artists. Despite their heart being there, it shows that Hey Rosetta! (and Stars) may have to tweak and work through some things as the tour progresses. Overall Hey Rosetta! did not disappoint, staying true to their name and delivering fierce performances. A special standout, making all the tiny faults disappear was the intense start to the already powerful hit and final song of the night, “Welcome”.

In many ways the pragmatic and folk-rock infused set of Hey Rosetta! fit well as a lead-in to the Stars’ performance, but in other ways it clashed with the flashy performance of Stars’ new set (and album). It was hard to ignore that Stars have grown past their signature rock/chamber-pop sound to include, as their album cover portrays, neon lights, synth, chorus pedals – all reminiscent of the ‘80s. The transition from chamber-pop to synth, was rough especially when a song like “This is the Last Time” was followed by “Hold On When You Get Love…”. It took some getting used to but it definitely did not take too much away from the fans who were dancing away as the show progressed. But what helped smooth it out were the vocal stylings of Torquil Campbell on “Trap Door” and the signature Stars tracks “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” and “Take Me to the Riot”.

Stars definitely felt at home and reasonably so, with Campbell dancing around the stage and staring out in the crowd from time to time. The show and the band’s relaxed nature during songs off No One is Lost painted a bigger picture for the future of their career that may see Montreal outfit moving further and further away from their older material. Stars and Hey Rosetta! are on a North American tour for the rest of the month in support of their new records.

Review by Sean Carlin | @seancarlin89

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