When a band has been on the live circuit for a good 15 years you can’t help but wonder if those years of wear and tear has waned their performance and if they still have what it takes to captivate a modern audience.
My initial skepticism was invalidated the moment Glaswegian indie baroque rockers Belle and Sebastian took to the stage at Sydney’s Metro Theatre last week.
Musically tight and genuinely amiable, the dream weaving seven-piece had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands and swaying fervently side to side.
Stuart Murdoch and his band of talented musicians led their fans through a discography spanning over a decade, subtly entwining past pleasers like The Boy With The Arab Strap with present offerings such as I Didn’t See It Coming.
The beauty of a Belle and Sebastian concert is the atmospherically layered and full sound invoked by the brass, string and woodwind sections that bring these much-loved songs to life. In fact, more prominence from the background instrumentalists would not have gone astray at this particular gig.
The phosphorescent lighting complimented the stage as well as the band, who seemed rather crammed on the Metro’s petite platform. The tight squeeze didn’t affect their presentation at all however; Murdoch absorbed the audience with lighthearted in-between song banter and occasionally left the stage to immerse himself in the crowd, whilst the remaining band members swapped instruments and paraded their deft musical skills and versatility behind him.
15 years into their career (however limited their commercial success has been) B&S have shown no signs of slowing down.
Last year they released their 8th studio album Belle & Sebastian Write About Love to critical acclaim and have a heavy touring schedule through Australia, Europe and the UK planned for the rest of 2011. If you call yourself an indie pop aficionado, I highly recommend you catch a Belle and Sebastian gig before the live magic fizzles out.