The Null Device

Belle & Sebastian play If You're Feeling Sinister

Tonight, I saw Belle & Sebastian at the Barbican. The performance was one of several in the ATP Don't Look Back series, in which bands perform live renditions of their classic albums. For their turn, Belle & Sebastian did If You're Feeling Sinister.

The support band for this gig was Broadcast, who were excellent. They played a combination of new material and old (including Come On Let's Go), and played like a tight, finely-tuned groove machine. One got an impression of retrofuturism, as if their music (with its analogue fuzz, live drum grooves and clunky bass) was something out of a 1960s-vintage view of a shining, stylish future. Anyway, they're doing a gig at Koko in Camden on Wednesday as well.

Then Belle & Sebastian went on. They had 12 musicians on stage and an astonishing array of kit (including a xylophone or similar, an electric piano and a PowerBook they seemed to play software instruments on); one can see why they might need their own trucking company just to get all their stuff to gigs. They started off playing a few random songs (mostly from EPs, though including a rare live version of Electronic Renaissance, with two drummers), then went into If You're Feeling Sinister. There was a rather fitting muted trumpet solo at the end of Like Dylan In The Movies, and after The Fox In The Snow, Stuart recounted a dream he had about Isobel agreeing to play this gig if they kept a taxi running for her outside throughout the gig, before confessing to missing her, to the audience's sympathy. For Judy and the Dream Of Horses, the band got a number of people who had been dancing in the audience to dance on stage; afterward, they proceeded to play about half a dozen other songs, including a rousing version of The Boy With The Arab Strap. In total, they played for almost two hours.

It wasn't too unlike their Melbourne gig; at first it started with people sitting quietly in the seats and watching them, but ended up with people dancing in their seats and the aisles, clapping and singing along. Towards the end (in the middle of If You Find Yourself Caught In Love, Stuart paused the song and revealed that he could see many familiar faces in the crowd; he compared this to the end of episodes of The Simpsons. And, towards the end of The Boy With The Arab Strap, the line about "the cool set in London" was followed by applause.

Anyway, it was a brilliant gig. They were in fine form and put on an excellent show.

There are 5 comments on "Belle & Sebastian play If You're Feeling Sinister":

Posted by: TheGirlWho Mon Sep 26 00:15:28 2005

Hello there! I found your blog through a long series of events that are a bit too lengthy to describe here. Sufficed to say, I like this blog. Very random and very interesting. I'm in Manhattan, currently on the job, but writing to you on the sly. Anyway, well done and I'll be back for a read. Happy to make your acquainance!

Posted by: datakid http:// Mon Sep 26 11:56:45 2005

ok dude, I'm in a hot and sweaty sri lankan icafe in colombo paying 50cents for every 15 minutes and I came hear to read this...please, please tell me either you or someone you know has a recording of this...I promise you my first fact, you can have the first two....

Posted by: acb Mon Sep 26 12:42:06 2005

Alas, I don't. I tried recording with the built-in microphone in my MP3 player but it came out unlistenably clipped, and the battery ran down before the main set started. All I have is some distortion that sounds slightly like Broadcast's _Come On Let's Go_ if you use your imagination.

Sorry about that; perhaps something will appear on the file-sharing services at some stage though.

Posted by: hot soup girl Tue Sep 27 07:46:39 2005

I wonder if Broadcast are playing any gigs next month? I'll be in London from this Friday until the end of October, and aside from the slew of Melbourne Muso gigs on this weekend (Marky Monnone, Fred Astereo, Darren Hanlon) don't have any other musical outings pencilled in. Can you make any recommendations?

Posted by: acb Tue Sep 27 17:26:39 2005

Not in London, though they're playing Europe in the first few weeks of October.