Ryan Star received a raucous hometown hero's welcome, celebrating the release of his major-label debut solo album by headlining Irving Plaza.
"This is a big day," Star said, introducing the title track from "11:59" (Atlantic/Burnett). "With the love in this room, we're playing The Garden tonight."
The album is packed with seize-the-day, enjoy-the-moment, you-can-do-it sentiments that become exponentially more intense in concert thanks to Star's forceful presence and his band's solid backing.
Star has the kind of magnetism that lets him open with the piano ballad "We Might Fall," while still reeling his fans in. The uptempo pop combo of "Brand New Day" and "Right Now" didn't just raise the energy level, but drew wild applause.
The intensity that drove "Sink or Swim" and his passionate cover of The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" has won him a loyal fanbase.
And their support is spreading. As "11:59" hit stores Tuesday, it immediately cracked the Top 15 on iTunes' Top Albums chart, putting Star on track to become Long Island's biggest solo rock act since Billy Joel.
The Dix Hills native, dressed in a "Nothing Sacred" T-shirt, gave special, echoing U2-ish treatment to "Last Train Home," the most poignant love song ever tied to the Long Island Railroad train schedule. "This song always brings me memories of Long Island," said Star, as he introduced it.
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He unveiled an acoustic guitar version of "Losing Your Memory," which includes a shout-out to his beloved Montauk.
"I've never done this before," he said, introducing the song. "But it's a special night."