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 A coming tour (August), an interview (last night, for me anyway) and the fact they will be joined on this tour by Beanie Boy (aka Badly Drawn Boy), was enough motivation for Wind Back Wednesday to rewind the Scottish pop machine.

And where have we landed? In 2006, a rapid return to Australia after having made us wait eight years for their first tour here in 2004. Instead of a Boy, this show had a Bobby F. Connections were made both ways and while one election prediction proved sadly true, most results went the right way.




Enmore Theatre, June 13, 2006


WAS THAT A COLLECTIVE CRY of "my god, did you see that?" coming from the Enmore Theatre? Sure, it's not up there with an Australian football team actually scoring goals or Kim Beazley discovering a spine but there were moments of surprise and revelation during this hugely pleasurable evening.

It is no longer true that Belle and Sebastian are merely fey popsters. (Though the "merely" should not be read as some pejorative: fey is okay with me and no one does fey as gorgeously as these Glaswegians.) Ten years since they politely entered through the side door of the music industry looking like they were more into Camus than U2, they rock out now with all manner of guitar solos, chunky electronic beats, early 70s funk àla Kool and The Gang and the kind of spangled stomp favoured by the Glitter Band.

With "new boy" Bobby Kildea (he joined in 2001 while the rest are pretty much eligible for long service leave) as groove conscious a bass player as he is a guitarist, it's even true that you can dance - "for inspiration" as front man Stuart Murdoch archly suggested to one fan. And that's true whether it be a kind of exuberant hipless shimmy favoured by Murdoch during the white boy soul of Sukie In The Graveyard or the robotic shapes thrown by guitarist Stevie Jackson, who looks like a camp Hank Marvin, during Electronic Renaissance.

Of course we should not get too carried away. This is still a band prepared to open the night with Stars Of Track And Field, a winsome, swoon of a song about athletic failure and yearning, close the night with the prettily sad The State I Am In and in between feature Piazza, New York Catcher, which could be an Irish folk tune done by Simon and Garfunkel, and let loose with a recorder duet (rock 'n' roll!) in The Boy With The Arab Strap.

So yes, it's unlikely that Belle and Sebastian will be challenging the U2s and Coldplays just as it is unlikely the Australians will beat Brazil and Kim Beazley will ever win an election. But who cares when the manifold pleasures of pop music, from fey to funk, are so readily and satisfyingly available in this one package?

A band that can afford not to play an out and out genius moment such as Like Dylan In The Movies or a bright pop gem such as Step Into My Office, Baby without weakening a two hour set must be doing all right. Must be better than all right. 



2024 - Belle And Sebastian play:

The Tivoli, Brisbane, August 21

Enmore Theatre, Sydney, August 22

Palais Theatre, Melbourne, August 23

Hindley Street Music Hall, Adelaide, August 25

Astor Theatre, Perth, August 27



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