Concert Review: Belle and Sebastian, July 27, Sony Centre


It happened on the second song.

Almost immediately after the first note of “I’m a Cuckoo” was played, a couple of dancers appeared on the periphery of the stage. Then a couple more, followed by a handful of folks standing up in their seats. By the time the band was midway through the song, a significant chunk of the audience had abandoned their seats and moved up to stand at the front. For his part, Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch seemed not only impressed but even spurred on to kick it up a notch. “It didnt take you guys long to stand up, did it? I was gonna go for the slow burn tonight but yeah, let’s do it.”

With no new album to promote, the band is ostensibly still touring behind 2015’s Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, but they played a selection of songs from throughout their career. The crowd was into it and Belle and Sebastian, in turn, was pretty into Toronto, with Murdoch noting how they had a local trumpet player joining them on stage and that a dancer featured in one of the videos playing behind the band was also from Toronto.

He also touched on a couple of topics on the minds of many Torontonians – The Blue Jays (baseball talk of course being used as a segue into “Piazza, New York Catcher”) and the city’s public transit. “I look deep into the psyche of Toronto and I sense trouble. You know what it is, it’s your public transport system,” said Murdoch before rattling off a list of suggestions for how to improve things as if he were running for the position of TTC commissioner. He backtracked a bit later, noting that while he may have been a bit negative in his last speech, there was still plenty to love about the city, including the fact that Torontonians would soon all be “able to smoke pot to your hearts content.” “After that, you won’t care about the transport,” added guitarist Stevie Jackson.

Stage banter aside, the band put on a typically great performance, complete with a mass whistling solo (“When we look at you in a meaningful way, that’s when you come in,” instructed Murdoch, and a group of people all whistling at the same time sounded both amazing and a little ridiculous) and the now standard moment where the band invites everybody on stage to dance along for “The Boy With The Arab Strap.” After ending¬†off their main set with “Judy And The Dream of Horses,” the band returned for a rousing encore of “The Party Line” before, as Murdoch put it, they would “get on our little bus and make our way into the night.”

Belle and Sebastian are playing a string of North American tourdates throughout the summer and just released a new single, “We Were Beautiful.” Give it a listen below:

Posted on by Paul in Concerts