Through a pair of binoculars, I sat dazing into the eyes of my musical heroes, Belle & Sebastian.
I had checked my vision a hundred times to see if this was what I was really seeing. It was as if something of my imagination had just concurred. The funny thing is, that I knew this is how they would look like in the flesh. About two weeks ago, I was as twee as can be.
Their opener, Twerps, described by Pitchfork as “an Australian band that works exclusively in chime and charm”, warmed quite a whimsical atmosphere. Their set seemed inconsistent in terms of interaction with the audience, however when they played they mooned over their songs with precision and feeling. Although they have a different style to Belle & Sebastian, they have the same presence of quirkiness and craftsmanship, which is why they compliment each other well.
To introduce Belle & Sebastian, a slowly drifting, nostalgic melody was played on the piano which was none other than their classic “Judy is a D*ck Slap”. Afterwards, all 14 of the members (including the brass section), hopped on stage, to perform their new songs for only a few minutes until Murdoch said that was enough of their new stuff, now onto their old classics.
The band hovered through the set with ease and professionalism. You could tell they knew what they were doing. At a point, the shift to their older songs had become droning, as it needed a bit of shake up. This was resolved when they had played a few more of their new songs, which brought up an exciting and futuristic element to the concert. Ben H Allen, the producer on their new record, (he’s worked with Washed Out and Matt & Kim) allowed them to explore beyond the boundaries in their music. In their performance, it is obvious that the band plays with a free, open to possibilities mindset.
A most notable moment of the concert was during their most coveted song, “The Boy with the Arab Strap” nudity erupted when a lady had flashed her top, followed by another woman who flashed her bottom. I think nobody was expecting that to go down at a Belle & Sebastian concert mind you.
But the best part of the concert was the moments of pure collaboration between the band and the audience. During their song “The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner” Murdoch asked the audience to accompany him in whistling the final melody of the song. As the crowd listened you could feel a sense of unison, the musical version of linking arms. Then when a couple of participants from the audience danced on staged, it made you want to be a part of that dance. After that night, it’s safe to say that the audience had a good time together in mellow tweeness.