Belle & Sebastian – ACL Live, Austin, TX 8/28/15 (SHOW REVIEW)

Photo via @acllive

Over the nearly twenty years that Belle and Sebastian have been making music much has changed, and yet, much remains the same. Their sound has progressed through the years but the fun and excellence of their live shows continues to impress. Though in recent years a Belle and Sebastian tour has become more infrequent, the Scottish indie giants are currently touring in support of their ninth studio album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance. The new album varies in musical composition throughout, but weighs heavy with a Euro dance-pop feel. It seems like a departure from their earlier music, which felt more hushed and downtempo, but this band has never shied from writing catchy pop music, as was evident throughout their performance in Austin on Friday.

The show opened with the song “Nobody’s Empire” from their new album, accompanied by a video behind the band that displayed images and lyrics from the song. By the time the band launched into “Allie” and “The Party Line”, the crowd was already dancing and singing along with front man Stewart Murdoch. With three new songs out of the way, Stewart asked if anyone was attending Austin’s Pride festivities before launching into “The State I’m In” from the nearly two-decades old Tigermilk. The crowd’s energy and enthusiasm continued throughout the night as the band performed songs from one end to the other of their catalog. Brand new songs like “Perfect Couples” were greeted with equal fervor from the audience as two decade-old songs like “Seeing Other People” and “Dog on Wheels”. Guitarist Stevie Jackson even debuted a brand new song called “I Took a Long Hard Look”, which he started off by singing a few lines of Willie Nelson’s classic, “Crazy”.

Fans of Arcade Fire would be nonplussed by the amount of people crowded on stage from song to song, ranging from six to ten musicians, some only coming on to play a shaker or tambourine. However, even The Polyphonic Spree might’ve been intimidated, as later in the evening Stewart invited members from the audience to come dance on stage while the band played “The Boy With the Arab Strap” and “Sukie in The Graveyard,” filling the stage to capacity. After the mass of dancers filed by into the audience, Belle and Sebastian closed the formal show with an excellent version of “Sleep The Clock Around”. As the band returned for an encore, Stewart thanked the audience and said, “We never take the encore for granted.” He then asked for requests from the audience and tried to play “Dress Up In You” but couldn’t remember all the lyrics and instead closed the night with “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying.” The audience was still calling for more as the house lights came on letting everyone know the concert had reached its end. Though we may not see Belle and Sebastian for a lengthy amount of time after this tour, they definitely gave fans enough to tide them over for a while.


Belle and Sebastian Setlist The Moody Theater, Austin, TX, USA 2015

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