What is this Belle and Sebastian?

Jason Diamond

belle and sebastian waterfront

Via Kenneth Shin's Flickr.

I can't quite figure out how Belle and Sebastian went from press-shy Glaswegian, twee cult heroes, to a band (along with openers, Teenage Fanclub) that easily fills out the Williamsburg Waterfront and then some.

If you were at this show, you’d probably chalk it up to natural progress. They've been around for at least 15 years, but it feels like just yesterday that I was scouring eBay trying to find a CD copy of the groups “Black Sessions” for under $40 dollars.

Not that Teenage Fanclub wasn't great–they've always worked well with the holy sounds of The Byrds and Big Star–but Stuart Murdoch owned the night. He bravely led his eight-or-so piece band through what I’d argue (with myself) is the best set I’ve seen them do (I’ve seen them four times now). Sure, it might be the extensive catalog of hits, or the long history of the band itself, but Murdoch had his fans right where he wanted them: standing in rapt attention, not thinking of the rainstorm.

A favorite moment: Murdoch's mention of his fanbases’ jump in numbers (due to procreation), and his subsequent assault on the crowds with autographed mini-footballs.

The band opened with the first single off their newest album, “I Want The World to Stop,” from Belle and Sebastian Write About Love. And even though the newest batch of B&S tracks hadn't charmed me on the record, this live performance easily changed my mind.

Stuart’s banter was good, as was the Glasgow weather and the note for note beauty of the band's back catalog, but the highlight for me was his inclusion of the haunting piano ballad fom Tigermilk, “We Rule the School.”

So Belle and Sebastian put on a fantastic performance, and I guess it’s no shock that their audience has grown, even attracting a few undesirables along the way. While the idea of anybody fighting at a show is stupid, watching two grown men exchange words, and nearly come to blows, as Stuart sings a song questions Mike Piazza’s sexuality is frankly, fucking absurd.

Aside from those guys, the show was bliss.

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