Show Review: Belle and Sebastian Delight Fans at ACL Live (7/16)

After a 7 year absence, Belle and Sebastian finally returned to Austin to play The Bat Cave Moody Theater at Austin City Limits Live.  Such a long absence would require a perfect show to win everyone over once again, and as expected, the Scots more than exceeded expectations.

Read on for more thoughts and plenty of photos.

Opening the night was Blitzen Trapper.  I’ll admit, at one point I really enjoyed this band, but I’ve lost myself on the trail of their music.  When I first heard them, they blended heavier sounds of the Pacific Northwest with a bit of country and folk, but as they progressed, the music grew more into run-of-the-mill Americana.  That’s what we got too, performance wise.  It was run-of-the-mill, almost static, with minimal movement on stage.  Then again, maybe we were all focused on the task at hand: absolute adoration of B&S.

Nearing almost two decades, Belle & Sebastian still bring one thing to mind, absolute innocence.  There’s a purity in their songs, both simple in structure and complex in arrangement, and always with Stuart Murdoch manning the helm.  Whether it be his frolicking across the stage or his banter with the audience, he always attracts the attention of everyone in attendance, much as he did all night long during the band’s set at ACL Live.

They opened up with a bit of an instrumental, just to whet our appetite, before launching into “I’m a Cuckoo.”  From the moment that spritely guitar rang out, the band had us in the palm of their hands.  They then touched lightly on their most recent albums, offering up “I Want the World to Stop” and “To Be Myself Completely.”  The spirit of the band and the songs shown through, with audience members swaying from side to side throughout.  But, then they moved into territory that any fans of twee indie rock would be willing to kill for, at least in my mind.

They twisted “The Model” and “The State I’m In” together, interestingly, then moved into classics like “Lord Anthony” and “Piazza New York Catcher.”  And no disrespect to the rest of the band (13 people on stage at most points), but Stuart always steals the show.  Whether it’s with his voice (aided by a lyric book on the floor) or his interaction with the audience, you can’t take your eyes off him.  He’s like an absolute child, making us all reflect upon our own innocence, which is perhaps the reason that the band and its fans have found the music so endearing and durable; we all like to feel like children from time to time.  Personally, I teared up inside as the band went through some of my favorites like “Boy with an Arab Strap” and “If You’re Feeling Sinister,” all before closing the main part of the set with “Judy and The Dream of Horses.”  They could have left there, champions of the night, but thankfully, they returned for two final tunes: “The Blues are Still Blue” and “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying.”

In the end, it doesn’t matter how long between shows you have to wait to catch Belle and Sebastian live, they’re always going to remind you how joyous music can be.  Whether they’re making you shake your body in exuberance or Stuart is making you laugh with his jokes, you’ll leave the performance reminded of just how much you love music, especially that of these Glaswegians.

There are a few more pics at the photo site

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