Monday, March 13, 2006

Belle & Sebastian with New Pornographers at the Ryman



I had the pleasure of my first live Belle & Sebastian and The New Pornographers experience at the Ryman a few days ago. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, but I will probably fail to translate that into words since this is my first attempt at a concert review/recap. So don’t expect any fancy critic-type made-up terms. Here goes...

I entered the venue right as The New Pornographers started their hour-long set and found my seat during the first song. It was a great seat (15th row on the floor) to be bought the week before the show with a clear view of the whole stage. The sound quality for the New Pornos was not very good...it was especially noticeable when Carl Newman talked to the audience. His audience patter was almost unintelligible. Kathryn Calder took over Neko Case's duties while she tours as a solo act, so the songs that were more reliant on Neko’s voice were not played. People were still streaming in during the whole set while the punctual were sitting down for the most part. However, during one song, this tall guy around the fifth row stood up and lifted his arms to the sky, like he had suddenly became Pentecostal. He stood like this for most of the song until he started punching his fists upward victoriously. The song ended and he sat down. Must have been his favorite song. Here’s what I remember of the set.

Twin Cinema
Use It
July Jones
Jackie
The Jessica Numbers
The Bones of an Idol
The Bleeding Heart Show
Sing Me Spanish Techno
Stacked Crooked

While the roadies were setting up for Belle & Sebastian, I found some Nashville Friends of Red Blondehead – Kyle, Karen, and Josh. I asked Kyle how this New Pornographers set compared to their Mercy Lounge one a few months ago and he declared the Mercy Lounge set to be far superior.

Belle & Sebastian took the stage around 9:00. The sound quality was markedly improved from the opener. The band interacted with the audience a great deal with crowd-pleasing antics and Stuart Murdoch was quite the charismatic frontman. At one point in the show he asked, “How many of you drove from someplace other than Nashville?” (or something like that) and many people yelled out where they had driven from (the girls next to me were from Atlanta). Then he asked, “Is there anyone from Alabama?” and I yelled "Wooooo!" and took it as a personal shout-out even though there were several other Alabamians there. The audience was entertaining to behold...it was a little like watching the dancing kids in a Charlie Brown movie. For example, a guy in front of me was leaning forward onto the pew in front of him and swinging his booty to each side while running in place. He did this for almost a whole song but towards the end he tired and resorted to marching in place. And the Atlanta girls were jumping energetically while flailing their arms up and down. Towards the end of the show, Stu saw a girl in the balcony that was wearing a tutu, jeans, tube top, and trucker hat and called her out about her unusual fashion ensemble (and insinuated that she had been making out with some guy that was according to her “a friend I haven’t seen in a long time”).

SETLIST
The State That I Am In
Another Sunny Day
You Made Me Forget My Dreams
Sukie in the Graveyard
Be Myself Completely
Electric Renaissance
– Stuart and Stevie did some entertaining dance moves during this song. The latter with some sort of kazoo-type instrument.
The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner
We are the Sleepyheads
Piazza, New York Catcher
Simple Things
Funny Little Frog
I Don't Love Anyone
Your Cover’s Blown
– Before this song, Stuart was talking about how someone in the audience had a friend that couldn’t make it to the show (I think the guy had interviewed him). So Stuart brought the guy on the stage so that he could call his friend. The friend couldn’t come because he didn’t have a car, which surprised Stu… “I thought everyone in America had a car!” Then the band sang “Your Cover’s Blown” in honor of him.
Lost Highway - Stevie sang a cover of this Hank Williams song to commemorate playing the Ryman. Later on, Stevie took pictures of the crowd and had an audience member take his picture on stage (smiling and holding a beer) to send to his country music-lovin’ parents.
Like Dylan In The Movies
I Am a Cuckoo
– Stuart brought a girl onto the stage to dance with him. She started out shyly but then cut loose and was dancing all up on the band members. Stuart remarks, “And you thought she was shy!” as she leaves the stage.
The Wrong Girl
If You Find Yourself Caught In Love
Get Me Away From Here I Am Dying

(Encore)
White Collar Boy

They took requests for the last song. The suggestions "This is Just a Modern Rock Song" and "Jonathan David" were ultimately rejected for….
Judy And The Dream Of Horses

All in all, the show was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was a night of giddy, joyful music…definitely worth the 3 hour drive. If you missed it or even if you didn’t, NPR has posted the whole D.C. show for download. It isn’t the same setlist, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Belle & Sebastian with New Pornographers in D.C.

5 Comments:

Blogger kustuck said...

i'm so excited now...not that i wasn't already before. but now i just really can't wait!!

2:06 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

had i gone, i would've wanted them to play "the blues are still blue." man, i love that song.

6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice review. I like this band, what little I've actually heard of them.
-Casey

2:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice review. I'm really starting to like this band, what little I've actually heard of them.
-Casey

2:02 AM  
Blogger the bees knees said...

i met that guy who stood up before the show... it was his favourite song, as while we waited in line he'd told me he was going to and tried to convince me to as well. ah well. at least he had a good time. he was a nice guy.

beth

2:55 PM  

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