A review of Belle & Sebastian at The Ironworks, Inverness on the 1st of July, 2013.
With a backdrop lit up to look like a set of gold lamé curtains, the stage could easily have been at home in the Seventies and Belle and Sebastian’s music, to my ears, always sounded like something that could be as comfortable in present day Inverness as a club somewhere back in time.
Belle and Sebastian haven’t played live in a while and Stuart Murdoch commented that there might be the odd false start and indeed there was, but this was received in good spirits by an enthralled audience. Sardonic cheers broke when he started one number in the wrong key only to be reminded that it was in fact in C Sharp.
A much livelier prospect in the flesh than their studio albums might indicate, they packed in a full set of 18 songs over the next ninety minutes. The audience got a chance to play their part too, a lady called ‘Freya’ was given the honour of reading the spoken word section during ‘Dirty Dream Number Two’ and mascara was applied to Stuart by one punter during ‘Lord Anthony’. A concern that the stage would look empty during the Boy with the Arab Strap meant that four excitable fans were invited on to the stage to be ‘lead dancers’ who subsequently did a great job encouraging the Ironworks to clap along to the aforementioned song.
‘Your Cover’s Blown’ added a splash of Disco and proved that Belle and Sebastian aren’t necessarily the peddlers of whimsy that you might expect and they’re quite capable of bashing out a bouncing tune along with the best of them. We’re treated to a broad set of tunes from across all albums from their first ‘Tigerlily’ up to their latest ‘Write About Love’ and of course Stuart doesn’t wholly hog frontman duties. Stevie Jackson took the lead to sing ‘To Be Myself Completely’ and a seemingly shy Sarah Martin had to be coaxed into singing ‘I Didn’t See it Coming’.
This didn’t sound like a band fifteen years in, ready to rest on their laurels and content to bang out greatest hits in rote fashion. Rather I got the impression that they’re still keen to make an impact and there’s obviously a genuine drive to please and interact with their audiences. I’d possibly unfairly expected an awful lot of navel gazing and a certain degree of pretension. Song titles such as ‘Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie’ don’t exactly lend themselves to credibility, but when it’s performed by a band so clearly in form and enjoying performing, any reservations are quickly cast away.
Exiting the stage what can only be described as rapturous applause Belle and Sebastian proved that fifteen years on they can still pull a crowd and put on a damn good show too. Encore ‘Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying’ finished off a busy night and sent everyone on their way home with wide smiles on their faces.
See more photos of Belle & Sebastian at The Ironworks.