In concert: Belle & Sebastian at DAR Constitution Hall
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?)
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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