When seeing Belle & Sebastian perform on their European tour, I couldn’t believe how many years have passed since I was in high school listening to tracks from “Dear Catastrophe Waitress” and searching for the Glasgow-based band’s entire discography on Napster. They were, and still are, one of the quintessential bands for music nerds. With witty commentary throughout the show and Wes Anderson-esque visuals, it was both a stimulating and meditative experience that brought feelings of nostalgia and enjoyment. I felt as though I was waving to my inner teenager and not much time had passed since we were last in sync. In reality, it’s been 14 years, and three albums (“The Life Pursuit,” “Belle and Sebastian Write About Love,” and “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance”) since I was first exposed to Belle & Sebastian.
One major striking characteristic of their performance, as alluded to before, is how both front-runners Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson engaged with the audience. They shared a genuine and love and passion for creating music with the many collaborators featured on the stage. Supported by multi-talented musicians, like Sarah Martin, Belle & Sebastian’s live presence is crisp and dynamic. One of my favorite moments was when Murdoch played the bongos for “Perfect Couples,” while the music video played in the background. Seeing tracks like that brought to life make the live experience much more worth it. It’s not something that can be easily replicated by simply listening to the album or tuning into a festival live stream.
The end of the show was bittersweet for everyone. While no one seemed to want it to stop, it was a more of a “see you later” nod from the band. We, as fans, can only hope Belle & Sebastian will keep the spirit alive and record more albums. Even though their sound has remained mostly unchanged, it’s nice to see such consistency to one’s own identity (with minor growth along the way).