Courtesy of Banchory Recordings The news of a solo album by Belle and…
- Posted on Oct 1st 2010 10:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
Jordi Vidal, Redferns
Luckily, the almighty likes his pop music twee as can be.
"We have good luck with the weather," lead singer Stuart Murdoch said three songs into the Scottish orchestral-pop septet's set, pushed up a half-hour with hopes of beating the storm. "We have god on our side."
Indeed, Belle and Sebastian played for nearly two hours, and nary a drop fell on East River Park. Across the water, the Manhattan skyline was barely visible through the fog, but in Brooklyn, Murdoch and his mates churned out sunny pop song after sunny pop song about sad boys and girls. In addition to its seven regular members, the group is touring with a string quartet, perfect for gussing up old favorites and songs from its forthcoming eighth album, 'Write About Love.'
The band opened with 'I Didn't See It Coming,' a new song featuring a drum machine and lead vocals from multi-instrumentalist Sarah Martin. The mix wasn't quite right, and many fans were unfamiliar with the tune, but no one seemed to care. It was the first song Belle and Sebastian had played in New York City since 2006, and legions of bespectacled, cardigan-clad Brooklynites found themselves in full agreement with the central refrain, a line Murdoch repeated after the music had stopped: "Make me dance/ I want to surrender."
Belle and Sebastian tried a handful of other new ones -- Murdoch's Stradivarius of a second fiddle, guitarist and sometime frontman Stevie Jackson, led a killer audience sing-along with his 'I'm Not Living in the Real World' -- but mostly, the band kept it old-school. There was the Thin Lizzy homage of 'I'm a Cuckoo,' the Gary Glitter-esque glam stomp of 'Step Into My Office, Baby,' the shuffle and lilt of 'Piazza, New York Catcher' and the semi-sweet, semi-sarcastic teen drama of 'Judy and the Dream of Horses.'
Before playing 'Lord Anthony,' Murdoch tossed autographed footballs -- the oblong kind used in America's version of the game -- to kids 12 and under, or "baby Belles," whom he feared might have been dragged to the concert by their parents. The singer has the build and disposition of a third-string place kicker, but to everyone's amazement, he threw tight spirals 30 or 40 yards into the wind.
On 'There's Too Much Love,' Murdoch handpicked a half-dozen audience members to come onstage and provide background clapping. Most of those drafted kept the beat, although one tall dude dying to be the center of attention occasionally lost it, possibly on purpose.
During the next number, 'The Boy With the Arab Strap,' the clappers became dancers, and the lanky showboater took it upon himself to pick up a tambourine, a dangerous instrument in the hands of someone with questionable rhythm. When the song was over, Murdoch doled out Olympic-style medals but ran out before he reached the string bean -- further proof a just, benevolent deity was watching over the show.