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Blog: Belle & Sebastian

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You find me a bit DAZED today, smiling daftly and humming Hits Old And New By Belle & Sebastian for LO! last night I went to the Astoria to see them. It was BLOODY GRATE.

As anyone who has ever mentioned B&S within a five mile radius of me will know, I have seen them LOADS of times, yeah, before they were even properly famous. Union Chapel?!? Seeing Belle & Sebastian was OLD HAT for me by then, oh yeah - I went to see them in GLASGOW and... what? I've already told you this story?

OK then, suffice to say, I went a bit B&S BONKERS and travelled around seeing them as much as I could. However, around the time of "Fold Your Hands Child" I stopped bothering so much, and I don't think I've actually seen them live since Bowlie (NB this is a cue for MORE Tales Of ROCK, so let's move on quickly), so I was Quite Excited to be seeing them again, ESPECIALLY now they have come back to being dead good again with the new album.

There was more excitement in the pub over the road beforehand - there was a sign in the function room saying "Chelsea Players", and i CRANED to see if I could recognise anyone famous (tho as I have no idea who plays for Chelsea this probably wouldn't have done me much good), until it was pointed out that this was a Theatrical Pub, and that it was probably The Chelsea Players theatre group. Oh well.

We got into the Astoria just in time to miss Franz Ferdinand, so had some BEER instead. B&S came on and did an instrumental that I wasn't sure I recognised (it may have been off Storytelling, in which case it was the only track played from that album), and then launched into nearly a two HOUR hop through their GRATE back catalogue. Ooh, they did "Losing It" and "The Loneliness Of The Middle Distance Runner" and "Stars Of Track And Field" and OH MY "Judy & The Dream Of Horses" (at which point I felt like hugging THE ENTIRE ROOM), and loads more, but also did a TON of stuff from the new album. This was a REALLY GOOD THING, as it all sounded FANTASTIC, especially "I'm A Cuckoo" and "Stay Loose". It were GRATE. The group of people in front of us seemed to have come JUST for the new stuff - when everybody else SQUEAKED with GLEE at "Sleep The Clock Around" they looked sort of disappointed, but then leaped about like LOONS when they did "Dear Catastrophe Waitress". This has GOT to be a good thing - normally bands like this are having to rely on the indulgence of old fans by this point, but B&S seem to be SCOOPING UP a whole new bunch. I must say, it did feel STRANGE for me to be at a big gig like this, KNOWING all the obscure b-sides and GETTING all the references. I don't think there's ever been a band I liked before they were famous who ever a) got particularly famous at ALL and b) just kept getting bigger. Did I mention I saw them before they got all famous? Did I?

They did "Piazza New York Catcher" with just Stuart and New Bass Bloke on gtr. Afterwards the rest of the band came back on and he said "Did you all go for a pee?" Half the audience then looked a bit guilty and pretended not to have heard.

One of our party went down the front, and somehow ended up SINGING the Monica Thingy bits in "Lazy Line Painter Jane" too, it was BIZZARE. Also KER-RAZY was the Panto Interlude, when Stevie and Stuart spoke of Brotherly Love, and then LAUNCHED into an amazing full band ASSAULT on The Theme From Minder. It sounded ACE, and was indeed FANTASTIC.

Whatever's happened in the past couple of years has obviously been A GOOD THING. GONE are the days of them being utterly appalling, barely audible (right at the start, Stuart said "We thought we'd play somewhere in London where you could actually hear at the back, for a change" - when I saw them in Nottingham you were hard pushed to hear at the FRONT!) and INCREDIBLY frustrating. Like the new album, they seem to have FINALLY got some confidence in how they play and what they play, and it is UTTERLY BRILLIANT.

I really enjoyed it. Can you tell?

posted 4/12/2003 by MJ Hibbett

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