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In concert: Belle & Sebastian at DAR Constitution Hall

belle & sebastianBelle & Sebastian delivered a daintily delightful performance on Thursday at Constitution Hall. (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

By Dave McKenna

Folks whose musical taste leans toward Scotch, hold the rock, packed DAR Constitution Hall on Thursday for Belle & Sebastian.

Not a fist was pumped or a head banged while Glasgow's finest and feyest pop purveyors were onstage. Grins and toe-tapping abounded, however. In all, it was as if a long and wholly liberating episode of "Glee" was taking place.

This cast of nerdily attractive characters is fronted by Stuart Murdoch, who can neither dance well nor keep himself from dancing. And, as B&S went into old favorites like "I'm a Cuckoo," the catchiest of the many Smiths-meets-"A Mighty Wind" gems in the band's canon, the fans couldn't stop their feet from shuffling, either. The group's decidedly European musical blend is lighter than an Olsen twin when compared to most music played on American radio. But B&S made a couple attempts to bond with its sizable stateside audience through Yank references that were equally jocky and forced. "Piazza, New York Catcher" featured an admirer's lusty warblings about a beefcakey ballplayer. The lyrics betray less knowledge about baseball ("The catcher hits for .318") than lust ("Oh elope with me in private and we'll set something ablaze!"), but the song's melody and skiffle beat overpower such shortcomings. Murdoch also tossed footballs - American footballs! - into the crowd, but not real far or with any athletic aplomb. (Why not croon about Beckham and kick soccer balls?)

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During "Sleep the Clock Around," as much of the audience helped out Murdoch on the money lines - "Everybody is happy, they are glad that they came!" - a young fan ran toward the stage with a sign reading "Elope with us, Belle and Sebastian!" Murdoch jumped into the crowd and walked her down the aisle arm-in-arm. Their relationship wasn't going to go anywhere, but, as with everybody else in the room, just being close to Murdoch left her happy and glad she came.

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By Click Track  | October 15, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  Belle & Sebastian  
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Memo to the Post: Next time Belle and Sebastian come to town, go with a reviewer who knows something about the music and doesn't waste a review by wishing that he was at a heavy metal concert.

Posted by: DeadCenter | October 15, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Don't want to pick too many nits with the review because I generally like what you guys write and I love this blog.
However, this point:
The wording of the baseball knowledge/Piazza song was kind of awkward, but you seem to be questioning his sports knowledge. There's absolutely nothing inaccurate about his statement about Piazza's average. Most catchers can't hit that well, but Piazza could, and I know there were seasons when he hit at least part of the time over .300. Moreover, there were rumors about his sexuality during his career.
I saw B and S in DC and Boston, and I thought Murdoch's comments about sports in both cities showed a surprising amount of knowledge. And, in Boston, he heaved one of those footballs way up in the balcony of a huge theater. I think he said at DAR that he wasn't allowed to throw them because it was too "posh."
Anyway, a quibble.

Posted by: ccdcbureau | October 16, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure where to begin with my comments about this review, but let me start here: why has the Post started sending people who clearly don't like the music they're reviewing to review shows? This is not the first time I've noticed this in the past couple of years and it tells the readers nothing. If you don't know the band, all it does is tell you the reviewer doesn't like them. If you do know the band's work it doesn't tell you whether or not they were good that night, or the new music comes across better or worse than on the new CD, or whether the tour is worth it or not.

Second, I'm not the sports fan that the previous poster is, but I agree with his/her comments on Piazza New York Catcher. Stuart Murdoch is fairly well known for being a Mets fan, admittedly an unusual thing in someone from Glasgow. Also, the "elope with me Miss Private" line is clearly not directed toward the baseball player.

Third, Murdoch did throw a couple of those footballs from the railings at the bottom edge of the balcony all the way to the very upper rows of the balcony.

Dave McKenna clearly didn't want to be at DAR that night, paid scant attention to the show, and wasted everyone's time. Next time, send someone who is interested in the show.

Posted by: nshanafredsi | October 16, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"[I]t was as if a long and wholly liberating episode of "Glee" was taking place."


Thems fightin' words!

Posted by: M__N | October 18, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Well, the last thing I want is someone being sent to 'review a show' because they 'like the band'. That's not really how reviewers work - I don't think Ebert is only sent to movies he likes.

That being said, I wasn't at the show though I'm a big B&S fan, so it's hard to sort the review but it's not actually a bad review from an objective point-of-view. I've read myriad reviews from this newer WaPo crew and generally find them to be reviews. Of course, I'm never happy to read a bad review of a band a like or a show I liked but that's the nuts in this world.

Posted by: saintex | October 18, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

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