Belle and Sebastian | Live Review

Belle and Sebastian @ Colston Hall, Bristol. 04.05.15.

It’s definitely the older numbers that induce the most satisfaction on the night.

Colston Hall is packed with people who wouldn’t look out of place in a musky record store, proudly flaunting expansive and intricate musical knowledge. There’re converse, chequered shirts and beards. Not all bands have a tight and specific clique as a following, but Belle and Sebastian certainly do. Needless to say, as they play a cult film detailing Glasgow’s economic growth in the sixties prior to their arrival, it’s everything we expected.

It’s clear that this is a band adored by the crowd at hand, they appear with the endearing keyboards of new track ‘Nobody’s Empire’, and it’s clearly a nostalgic affair for the Glaswegian indie sweethearts. The number wholly exploits the social realist roots of where they came from, “Lying on my bed, I was reading French with the light to bright for my senses”. The honey-sweet vocal of Stuart Murdoch has been a staple throughout their career and it remains on fine form throughout the night.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band go out of their way to compliment the well-aged surroundings of Colston Hall but they show large appreciation for the venue, which would easily fit into the gritty documentary we were shown before. The band include an intriguing visual element throughout the evening as the model from their latest album cover introduces songs in a seductive and peculiar manner. ‘I’m a Cuckoo’ and ‘Another Sunny Day’ are revealed early on, classics from this bands big catalogue that couldn’t fail to raise smiles.

The arrival of the second new track ‘The Party Line’ came off a little awkward though. Murdoch bounces on the spot evoking copious amounts of energy although this enthusiasm isn’t shared by a large number of the audience. It’s clear they’re more comfortable with some of the slower numbers you can flex your knees along to rather than the all out pop drawl of this newie. Upbeat numbers seldom go down well in venues where half of the crowd are seated though, so this could be forgiven. But considering Belle & Sebastian have been given the nod in many indie heartthrob movies such as Juno and High Fidelity, there’s a note of disappoint as they play through a lot of their new music. ‘Perfect Couples’ is much longer than it needs to be, coming in like a lacklustre version of Talking Heads, it’s mainly the lyrical repetition that begins to tire.

As it’s May the fourth, the Star Wars theme-tune is played by the orchestra, this breaks up the proceedings and shows that the band are capable of some humour. They do however pull things fully back on track with ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’, which sees the band pluck people from the crowd, something that has become a bit of a tradition over the years.

In essence, it’s definitely the older numbers that induce the most satisfaction on the night. Belle and Sebastian are well worth going to see simply because of their prolific contribution to music over the last two decades. Their new album doesn’t hinder the night excessively, only makes it longer than it needs to be.

Check out ‘Nobody’s Empire’ right here:

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