October 15, 2010

Belle and Sebastian at DAR Constitution Hall - October 14, 2010

Made me dance, I wanted to surrender...

There's a comfort in Belle and Sebastian's music that translated into an amazing, beautiful DAR Constitution Hall show.  Yes, I said amazing and DAR in the same sentence.  

First act Versus, to their credit, was one of the more engaging openers I've seen in awhile.  And word on the street is they've been around the block.  But they're Belle and Sebastian Lite.  The music sounds good but the songs aren't there, and the two obvious standouts were the group's original members, the only two people who look like they were old enough to have been in a band in 1990 to begin with: the men.

Then the lights lowered, and a string section entered.  Flashlights led Stevie, Sarah, Stuart, et al on stage, whereby they (as Belle & Sebastian) launched into a beautiful rendition of the new album's standout, I Didn't See It Coming.  Sarah sang so sweetly, backed by the small symphony.  Stuart shimmied.  Stevie smiled.  They set the tone for a stellar show, a show that had a comfortable air to it.  Like going to a party where you knew everybody.

Fans and band have clearly aged together, from cynical to sentimental. Not hipsters, but intellectuals, music lovers and the in-betweens who appreciate thoughtful lyrics and purely pretty music.  And they showed and shared it by dancing: onstage, filling the aisles, swaying and bouncing at their seats in collective enjoyment.  It was a marvel. The set rambled through a random list of old favorites, and a selection of new material.  The strings added a rare richness to the performance that, in a huge space, felt uniquely intimate.

Perhaps it was the charm of our host, no... ringleader for the evening: Stuart Murdoch.  A man now in the running for greatest frontman of "our" generation, a close second to the much more dry Jeff Tweedy.  Stuart put on an audience member's lipgloss for I'm Not Living in the Real World (I think...), invited fans on stage for Arab Strap, and did more than one victory lap around the venue (see pic).  And gave away toys: footballs signed by the band, medals to the onstage dancers... too incredibly cute, a reminder to age with humor.

For all the adorable antics, however, this band is in a word, classic.  A Scottish Invasion, with a fifth/sixth Beatle in Stuart.  Multi-instrumentalists abound.  People who look like you, 
singing lyrics that sound about you, playing music you could only dream of.  See the scorecard for more info.

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