Belle And Sebastian
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- Somerset House, London »
- Belle And Sebastian »
The world of Belle & Sebastian was formerly seen to be a closed and closeted one. Previously, images of girls in glasses and plaits and boys in brown corduroy had floated through the mind whenever the Glasgow collective were mentioned. This show, one of the biggest they have headlined, goes someway to expelling the myth.
The genteel, if slightly uncomforting outside quadrant of Somerset House is filled with thousands of B&S fans, most of whom go some way to eradicating the pigeon-holed nature of* Stuart Murdoch* and co. Thirty-something picnic-ers mingle with twenty-something Essex lads, teenage Scandinavian beauties and forty-ish Peel-ites. All of who share an adoration of six album's worth of waitresses, baseball players, librarians and church curators. The only incongruity about these fans is in the different levels of inebriation they exist in, for this is a party. Yes, a fairly gentle, undemanding evening on our dancing shoes, but a sense of occasion nonetheless. Is this because, like one broadsheet over-intellectualised last weekend, they have now become a bona-fide pop band? Maybe, but more likely because this is a sort of indie-coming out affair where there can be no shame in the joyous singing of Judy and her dreams of horses. It's a statement of intent for the band, and an indication that they truly are a band who belong to the wider world.
Murdoch and second-in-chief Stevie Jackson, casually banter through the set, filling in instrument changes (of which there are many) with easy conversation, wry comments and the occasional impromptu cover ['Blue Suede Shoes' and a communal 'Waterloo Sunset', both sung by Jackson]), that indicate quite how relaxed the band have become since their live debut seven years ago. Their set tonight spans a complete eight years, starting with a clutch of songs from 'Tigermilk' including; 'The State I Am In' and '_She's Losing It_'. After, they play a series of songs covering the middle of their career, making tunes like 'The Wrong Girl' 'There's Too Much Love' and '_I'm Waking Up To Us_' sound like the lost classics they really weren't at the time. The second half of the band's two-hour set sees them raising the tempo (as much as Belle & Sebastian can) with a triple whammy of '_The Boy With The Arab Strap', 'I'm A Cuckoo' and 'Step Into My Office, Baby_', and suddenly, close your eyes, and it almost does feel like a bona-fide pop concert. The evening closes with a selection of 'hits' from their best, and clearly most popular album 'If You're Feeling Sinister'. '_The Stars Of Track And Field' and 'Like Dylan In The Movies_' elicit the sort of response seen at an Oasis concert, and set closer 'Judy And The Dream Of Horses' is as wonderful a song as you could want to hear on a beautiful summer's night like this.
Following the clichés, tonight's performance is indeed a triumph and a vindication of everything they have done and each path they have chosen to tread. It also begs the question of where they can go from here? If they collect any more fans, the next time we see Belle & Sebastian, it might be at Wembley Arena. And that would be odd...
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