• Andy Shearer

Day 183 - Belle & Sebastian: 15 Years Ago Today

Perth Concert Hall's opening weekend was rounded off by our first gig in a mixed standing/seated format with one of Scotland's all-time favourite bands, Belle & Sebastian on Sunday 18th September 2005.

"Astute fellow that he is, B&S frontman Stuart Murdoch instantly spotted the real difficulty with Perth's new venue - converted for the first time to a 1600 capacity hall with the removal of most of the stalls seating.

|Bit posh for Perth, " he joshed, before carving a path through the promenaders to check the acoustics. Singing, perched on a rail in front of the sound desk, he may be right. Interesting shows coming up including Alabama 3, Goldfrapp and Michael Nyman but all have performances more handily placed formany concert-goers.

This was a one-off, however, from the nation's most fondly regarded band. Within minutes, Murdoch was engaging in jolly banter with the audience, chiefly about his stage attire and that of guitarist Stevie Jackson. "We'll never be fashionable, " he conceded, aware that in certain circles they have been since 1997. The currently-stable octet augmented by a quartet of violins, the B&S line-up beats the attendance at many an MU branch meeting. This was a slick, relaxed show of great sonic variety with lovely lighting and exemplary sound. Bringing on five extra people to whistle the coda of The Loneliness Of The Middle Distance Runner was a very B&S thing to do, and when someone shouted a request for Elvis Costello's Oliver's Army, Jackson led the band in an impressive scratch version. Of their own new songs, Murdoch's West End R 'n'B number about "domestic bliss or the attainment of it", details a couple's attempts to spice up their love life and was perilously close to Victoria Wood. Later, when he returned to the stage after his foray among the fans, Murdoch said the experience had made him feel like Val Doonican - appropriately, because when B&S rock, it is but gently. "

**** The Herald, 19/9/05

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