March 13, 2006
This was my most anticipated concert of the year (so far) and it blew away any expectations that I had. I can really say this was the best concert of my life. Pure joy. New Pornographers were up first and they seemed a bit tired. The drummer was very much into it and entertained the audience with stick flips, but he wasn’t very well lighted. I’m guessing that with a full band they’d be much more entergetic. But that’s not really the point, because everybody was there to see Belle and Sebastian and they did not disappoint.
Stuart Murdoch is the most charismatic singer I’ve seen live which is something I didn’t expect at all. He danced every chance he had, chatted with the crowd between every song, and was hilarious. He began by telling us that he knew how stressful it was getting to Chicago (and it was) and that if we wanted to let off any energy by jumping around or dancing that he couldn’t stop us. He then proceeded to play Another Sunny Day and Funny Little Frog which highlighted the bands talents, as well as, a very upscale stage production.
Stuart said they were going to play a few old songs on this night, but they weren’t going to be snobs about it. They then played “A Century of Fakers” much to the crowd’s delight before going into some more of their Life Pursuit songs. I was really glad to see The Blues are Still Blue and We Are The Sleepyheads. During Electronic Renaissance, Stuart jumped onto the speakers and Stewie Jackson did a Mr. Roboto dance. After they brought out “Pizzaz, New York Catcher”, I thought I had seen the highlight of the show. Never have I been so wrong.
The next moment is something you may read about but don’t think you’ll ever see. Stuart announced that he had received an email from someone in Chicago wondering if he would bring up his wife to sing on stage. He said the song they chose intrigued him since it was something they hadn’t performed in a while, and he asked if that couple was in the crowd. Luckily, they were in the very front row and the band brought the very excited lady onto the stage, who we later found out was named Amanda (see picture above). The band began to play Lazy Line Painter Jane which the crowd loved, but not nearly as much as when Amanda began the second verse of the song, pitch perfect. The crowd erupted! She literally had the song memorized, lyric and pitch-wise (and it’s not a very easy song to sing). I have a short video below that doesn’t nearly give her performance justice.
After that obvious highlight, Belle and Sebastian didn’t back down and finished off the first part of the set with fantastic performances of I’m a Cukoo, “The Wrong Girl”, and “If You Find Yourself Caught In Love.” Stuart brought up a girl to dance with during “The Wrong Girl” and proclaimed she had on a “nice jumper.” Before the next song started, Stuart had all the boys sit down giving the girls a chance to see clearly and saying “I know what it’s like being short.” Afterwards he said, “I see some of the boys are starting to stand up, I didn’t give you permission.” It was a very funny moment. During “Caught In Love”, he began to wander into the crowd during the bridge but aborted after having to have a security guard hold him on the rail. Later though, he catapulted himself into the crowd while finishing the last words of the song. Amazing!
For the encore, Belle and Sebastian played White Collar Boy while Stuart introduced each band member. Then he began to take requests and a person yelled out “What’s your favorite dinosaur?” Stuart answered the Brachiosauras because it was so tall, Stewie liked the T-Rex. A group of boys yelled out for “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying” which they played. To end the show they played an enthusiastic version another request, “Sleep The Clock Around”. It was a very fitting ending to a perfect night.
Here’s 6 videos from the performances, all spectacular quality:
The New Pornographers
Bleeding Heart Show (:40)
These videos are very impressive. Download Lazy Line and Caught In Love first.
update – on request, here’s a :12 version of Jen and Stuart dancing during The Wrong Girl
The Wrong Girl