One disadvantage of living in the sprawling metropolis that is Plymouth, MA is that it's too damn far from Boston. So last Friday night when team AGP headed into the Wang we had plenty of time to discuss the prospect of not only catching Belle and Sebastian again, but also Dean Wareham performing the music of the seminal Galaxie 500 had us pretty excited as well. So it is with great disappointment that we report due to some poor planning on our part and a some major traffic delays on Route 95, we only saw about 45 seconds of Mr. Wareham set. Not the best way to start the night or a review for that matter, but I believe in full disclosure of such things.
With the release of a new Belle and Sebastian album,Write About Love just three days prior to the Scottish septet's arrival in Boston you would think it would be a safe bet to assume that the evening would rely heavily on the new album, right? Wrong. The band did highlight some of Write About Love's best tracks, but wisely went to their extensive and impressive back catalog for the bulk of the set. As much as I have been bowled over by the bands excellent new LP this cherry picked set list was a real winner. As soon as the band hit the stage the theatre erupted, in fact the guy next to me went into what I first thought was some kind of a seizure but thankfully he was just thrilled to be there, as was I.
The band got things started with I Fought In A War with just Stuart gently strumming an acoustic guitar, before being joined by the rest of the band. On I Didn't See it Coming a few lucky fans were invited on stage to dance with Stuart and dance they did. I guess this has been a regular part of the show during the bands current U.S. tour. At the end of the song Stuart awarded his volunteers with a B&S medallion. A far as front men go, Stuart Murdoch is damn fine one. On several points throughout the night he went into the crowd and ran throughout the venue never missing a lyric and delighting Belle and Sebastian die hards all night,myself included. One of the standout moments of the set came early on when guitarist Stevie Jackson stepped to the mic for I'm Not Living in The Real World amidst a full on audience participation sing along. Normally I don't go for the whole venue signing along with the artists I am paying to see thing, but for some reason this felt right, almost communal.
In the four Boston shows I have seen Belle and Sebastian play over the past 10 years this was by far the most impressive. Due in part to a superb song selection, however the lion share of the credit goes to B&S' superb playing and their consummate front man. Not to mentions the bands endless supply of pop hits.
I Fought In The War
Dirty Dream Number Two
Piazza, New York Catcher
I'm Not Living In The Real World
If You're Feeling Sinister
I want The World To Stop
Sukie in The Graveyard
We Rule The School
(I Believe In) Travellin' Light
Funny Little Frog
I Didn't See it Coming
The Boy With The Arab Strap
I'm A Cockoo
The State I'm In
Sleep The Clock Around
If You Find Yourself Caught In Love
Live photo courtesy of Nicole Getchell Hamill