I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 15 years and one of my most vivid – and favorite – musical memories is Belle and Sebastian’s sold out 2006 show at the Hollywood Bowl. It stands out so much, that I can never talk about the band without mentioning it.
Why, you might ask?
It was some of the most unadulterated musical joy I’ve ever experienced — along with 18,000 other people – some of which stormed the stage to dance. It was pure joy.
Our show with the Glaswegian band last night at Apogee Studio proved they could still create that kind of glee with their infectious pop.
And, though he might have been playing to the crowd, Stuart Murdoch called LA their 2nd home so I like to think they pull out all the stops for us.
They chose KCRW’s Apogee Sessions series to host their album release party for “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance” and brought a string section and a trumpet player.
With zero pretentiousness and oodles of charisma, what you see is what you get with Belle and Sebastian.
Even though I’m a longtime fan, the highlights of the show were the new songs. The four they played are my clear favorites from the album, their 9th full length.
They got the party started right away with “The Party Line” and Stuart donned a keytar for “The Power of Three”, which featured Sarah Martin’s vocals. Stevie Jackson took the lead on a lively version of “Perfect Couples” and the melodies and instrumental/vocal build up around the chorus on “Nobody’s Empire” are quintessential B&S.
Don’t get me wrong, old favorites like “Legal Man” and “Sleep the Clock Around” were more than welcome and got the crowd riled up.
During the interview, hosted by Jason Bentley and Marion Hodges, the band talked about how they choose set lists for their live shows and Stuart indicated they consider a lot of factors and really put some work into it because “all we have is songs, we don’t have cannons.” Adding, “we’re not AC/DC.”
He also talked about the spontaneous nature of the band saying “nothing this band has ever done – aside from making records and playing shows – has been planned.”
They had nothing but wonderful things to say about working together as a band and show no signs of slowing down, with Stuart saying “we just love what we do. Every time we get in a room, somebody has an idea for a song.”
“There’s still music pouring out of us.”
That’s a pretty great thing to hear a band say 20 years into their career.
Our session, engineered by Bob Clearmountain, will air on Morning Becomes Eclectic on February 2.
KCRW’s Apogee Sessions featuring Belle and Sebastian – Set List
*The Party Line
Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie
*The Power of Three
My Wandering Days Are Over
Fox in the Snow
Dog on Wheels
Sleep the Clock Around
*off the new album “Girls in Peacetime Want To Dance”