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Sunday Matinee
Nicely jumpered skinny students suck feverishly on white-pack Silk Cut surrogate tits and titter tweely at every feeble onstage witticism. Oh! It’s all so oh-so coy and warm and happy-clappy cosy! This ever-so-slappable crowd of shit-eating indie-schmindie sheep are apparently not even slightly pissed off that they’ve had to queue outside in the freezing rain for over an hour (while a B&S employee tossed them compensatory ice-creams).
“Integrity seems to be the key word,” mumbles singer Stuart Murdoch (apropos absolutely f-ing nothing) to general laughter and a smattering of clapping. “Wanky, half-arsed, cackhanded and utterly insulting amateurism,” would be closer to the f-ing mark (don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining, twat).

This is the matinee show. Belle & Sebastian have sold out Manchester’s amazing Victorian town hall twice in one day. The perform in the round, the stage a speaker-stacked black modernist slab slapped in the exact centre of a stunning gothic-arched and gold-leafed beige-stone Christmas cake. The acoustics are thus totally f-ed and the insultingly desultory attempts at audience communication (during the frequent equipment breakdowns) reduced to mere whispered mumblings.

And yet, despite the fact that Belle & Sebastian’s sole trick is to combine piss-poor sub-Don McLean lyrics with nicked Kirsty MacColl riffs, there is the merest whiff of real magic here. Even the most cynical folkophobic would find it hard not to twitch and shudder with near sexual pleasure at the throbbing muscle layered upon tracks like “The Stars Of Track And Field” and “The Fox In The Snow” (the recorded versions of which remain puke-inducingly whimsical and twee). But it’s never enough to overcome the overwhelming stench of smug, cutesy-wutesy, mumsy-wumsy, Jack Straw-approved suburban shite.

Manchester Town Hall is an over-the-top, totally in-your-face and utterly awesome shrine to late-Victorian bourgeois triumphalism. Today it showcases a band who, more than any other, epitomise the tediously understated, wilfully inadequate and teeth-grindingly irritating school of aesthetically neutered and ideologically castrated middle-class, too-thick-for-art-school Blair Rock.

A punter, seeing a hack scribble furiously, approaches and demands that NME doesn’t compare Belle & Sebastian to “Felt, Nick Cave, The Smiths…” and a whole load of shit anti–rock bands because “that would be lazy”.

OK, how about The Carpenters without the camp? Burt Bacharach without the balls? Jonathan Richman without the jokes? Crowded House without the incisive lyrical insights? Or maybe The Velvet Underground without the tunes, looks, attitude, politics, style, asthetics, vision, talent, charisma, sunglasses, black turtle-neck sweaters or f-ing drugs? That do you? I mean, you seem so easily pleased.

<h3>Sunday Matinee</h3>
Nicely jumpered skinny students suck feverishly on white-pack Silk Cut surrogate tits and titter tweely at every feeble onstage witticism. Oh! It’s all so oh-so coy and warm and happy-clappy cosy! This ever-so-slappable crowd of shit-eating indie-schmindie sheep are apparently not even slightly pissed off that they’ve had to queue outside in the freezing rain for over an hour (while a B&S employee tossed them compensatory ice-creams).
“Integrity seems to be the key word,” mumbles singer Stuart Murdoch (apropos absolutely f-ing nothing) to general laughter and a smattering of clapping. “Wanky, half-arsed, cackhanded and utterly insulting amateurism,” would be closer to the f-ing mark (don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining, twat).

This is the matinee show. Belle & Sebastian have sold out Manchester’s amazing Victorian town hall twice in one day. The perform in the round, the stage a speaker-stacked black modernist slab slapped in the exact centre of a stunning gothic-arched and gold-leafed beige-stone Christmas cake. The acoustics are thus totally f-ed and the insultingly desultory attempts at audience communication (during the frequent equipment breakdowns) reduced to mere whispered mumblings.

And yet, despite the fact that Belle & Sebastian’s sole trick is to combine piss-poor sub-Don McLean lyrics with nicked Kirsty MacColl riffs, there is the merest whiff of real magic here. Even the most cynical folkophobic would find it hard not to twitch and shudder with near sexual pleasure at the throbbing muscle layered upon tracks like “The Stars Of Track And Field” and “The Fox In The Snow” (the recorded versions of which remain puke-inducingly whimsical and twee). But it’s never enough to overcome the overwhelming stench of smug, cutesy-wutesy, mumsy-wumsy, Jack Straw-approved suburban shite.

Manchester Town Hall is an over-the-top, totally in-your-face and utterly awesome shrine to late-Victorian bourgeois triumphalism. Today it showcases a band who, more than any other, epitomise the tediously understated, wilfully inadequate and teeth-grindingly irritating school of aesthetically neutered and ideologically castrated middle-class, too-thick-for-art-school Blair Rock.

A punter, seeing a hack scribble furiously, approaches and demands that NME doesn’t compare Belle & Sebastian to “Felt, Nick Cave, The Smiths…” and a whole load of shit anti–rock bands because “that would be lazy”.

OK, how about The Carpenters without the camp? Burt Bacharach without the balls? Jonathan Richman without the jokes? Crowded House without the incisive lyrical insights? Or maybe The Velvet Underground without the tunes, looks, attitude, politics, style, asthetics, vision, talent, charisma, sunglasses, black turtle-neck sweaters or f-ing drugs? That do you? I mean, you seem so easily pleased.

Steven Wells

NME – Manchester, Town Hall, 27th and 28th December 1997
December 1997

Saturday

People just don’t like Belle & Sebastian, they’re hopelessly devoted to them. Among tonight’s collections of hipsters, Habitat squares, C86 revivalists and out-patients, there are people who’ve trekked from America* and Japan. Why? Because the Belle & Sebastian songbook is crammed with tales of feckless idealists who, although hemmed in by boorish reality, demand the earth. We’ve a disquieting sense that they harbour the sane, giddy romantic part of us that age has whittled away. And they make our compromised spirits soar anew.
We expect tonight to merely, if deliriously, confirm what we already know – that we love them more than life itself. And, bless their enigmatic Scottish socks, they’ve tried to make it A Special Experience. Hence the venue, a gilt-edged grand hall, and the following day’s matinee performance. It’s not quite Spike Island, but it’s getting there.

As opener “Put The Book Back On The Shelf” stumbles to a close, though, we’re already beginning to wonder if we’ve fallen for a band we never really knew. There should be pandemonium, voices punching through the rafters, but the painfully quiet PA means that no one even murmurs. Stuart Murdoch attempts a shimmy during a jauntier “I Don’t Love Anyone” and a few people take his lead. But it’s hopefully self-conscious.

During the interminable breaks between songs, as instruments are swapped and beers retrieved, there’s utter silence. This reverence, or crippling awkwardness, wholly dissipates any gathering excitement. At time, as the band talk amongst themselves, it’s like we’re unwelcome guests in their rehearsal room. Gigs by bands that act as magnets for rock’s outsiders have traditionally been wildly celebratory affairs; they’re about bonding and blossoming. But nothing encourages that here, especially not eight new songs in a 14-song set.

There are some fun moments though, such as Stevie ending his spectacularly spastic Orange Juice-esque solo during “Dylan” by playing the guitar with his teeth, but the cheekily charismatic bunch we’d expected are absent. They look baffled by our presence and often panicked at their own lack of cohesion. Perhaps they should, hey, practise a little and relax. There is a middle ground between The Pastels and M People, you know.

It is possible, among the debris, to glimpse greatness. “Photo Jenny” and newie “Dirty Dream” hint at Belle & Sebastian’s oft overlooked Northern-tinged pop potential. “Chick Factor”, even with its wildly out-of-tune Mellotron, rolls and swells like you’re falling in love – the Velvets at their most preciously Fisher Price. “Is It Wicked?” (sung by a terrified Isobel) is gorgeous and the closing “Rollercoaster Ride” features Stuart’s voice at its strong, plaintive best. Marry this with some beautiful crescendos of Marr-ish guitar and mournful trumpet flourishes and it’s something you’re going to treasure for life. On vinyl.

Manchester has rarely witnessed such embittered post-gig arguments. Indeed, the clap-happy souls, chuffed simply to be in the same room as their heroes, are undeterred But we, the sane, expected a gig (albeit a roughly hewn one) that would become a byword for everything uniquely elevating about going to watch a band. Instead, we got a rehearsal for a sixth-form revue.

Comedy, someone once said, is the gap between expectation and reality. Clearly, they’d never seen Belle & Sebastian play live.

Tony Naylor

Melody Maker – Manchester, Town Hall, 27th and 28th December 1997
December 1997

Going to the chapel and we’re gonna get… shafted. Belle And Sebastian are often mentioned in the same sentence as Tindersticks, so I’m keen to see them play in the house of God. This’ll be OK, I figure. The adjective “beautiful” has rarely been more than a few lines away in their adulatory press to date, and the new single “Lazy Line Painter Jane” is certainly an idioblastic thing of defiant organic grandeur.
I am not entirely insensitive -not yet- but tonight’s is an infuriating anti-performance of shambolic wimping and wussing. The maladjusted seven trickle onstage and proceed to… tune up for 15 minutes. This they do in between every song. Sometimes they vary it a little by swapping instruments (including cellos, trumpets – sadly underused), and blundering around with endless microphone refittings. On one such tedious intermission a guitarist gives us an impromptu falsetto rendition of “Like A Rolling Stone”; he gets two-thirds of the way through it before he’s reined in. That it’s on of the evening’s highlights is bitterly illuminating. Belle’s contempt for their admirers is neither big nor clever. Their rudeness is like that of Rik from “The Young Ones.” They come across as silly, shoddy amateurs. Surely that’s no longer the middle-class (aka “indie”) aesthetic. It’s promoted as endearing, but the majority of disenchanted fans here find it far from priceless.

So much tweaking, yet the sound when it deigns to arrive is vapid. Another song about “a girl” who “dreams of horses” – all the canon needs, right? Stuart Murdoch sings with a perversely English, Donovanesque feyness which may intrigue on record but here is timid, conservative and sometimes plain inaudible. Any momentum or seduction is sacrificed to arsing around and giggling like school kids. The boys seem childishly thrilled to be swearing in a church.

Isolated minutes (not “moments” – it’s not a night which earns or attains “moments”) serve to show that delicate gratifications can be detected beneath the bluff and boredom: “Stars Qf Track And Field” is a nimble enough nugget which entices some college-disco pogoing from the patiently devoted, while Monica Queen brings much needed guts and gusto to the new single. This almost distracts us from the architecture, and from our much-vaunted poet/artist/hero’s incongruous cheeky-lad demeanour. And ghastly shirt.

After the light relief of a hapless photographer emerging from the altar above the band mid-song like a displaced Mary Magdalene, we are graned dispensation. Those down the front whoop for an encore, presumably on the grounds that it’s more fun than the coach back to Glasgow. They don’t get one. I’m staggered that such a basic ineptitude and unjustified smugness have been allowed prior acclaim and even mystique. Perhaps we should clutch at hope by remembering now that giant oaks from tiny acorns grow.

Acorns are cool. Belle And Sebastian, on the other hand, seem hopless.

Chris Roberts

Melody Maker – London, Islington Union Chapel, 31st July 1997
August 1997

Friends, we are in the presence of a phenomenom. Eight people are ranged across the stage, mostly looking superbly unlike pop stars, spending a long, long time retuning, swapping instruments and grinning coyly at one another. The vagaries of fashion, the nuances of big beat and new grave, are evidently anathema to them. The Zeitgeist is alive and well and living, for one night only, on a distant planet from here.
Belle & Sebastian, then. Their fourth London gig, their first in nearly a year. Many lovely songs about misfits and dreamers and epiphanies at bus stops. A surprisingly large number of people who hang on every word and know quite a lot about them, who can’t dance but don’t care. Truly, a phenomenon.

For Belle & Sebastian are a dazzling triumph of doing things differently. One of British music’s newest and most devoted cults has grown up around these unassuming Glaswegians, two albums and two EPs into their career, in spite of precious few interviews, photographs and shows. Even pop star patronage has been conspicuous by its absence thus far, although fellow kitchen-sink fantasist Jarvis Cocker is mobbed in the toilets just before they go on.

No. What we have here is that rarest of bands: the madly unfashionable outsiders – silent, invisible, contrary – whose success is entirely down to their records being brilliant. The antithesis to all the macho bad-boy posturing perennially in vogue, theirs is a rebellion that’s quieter, more insidious, more breathily aesthetic. As these complex songs gently unfurl and creep their way to trumpet-blaring climaxes, it becomes apparent B&S are one of this decade’s premier purveyors of frayed sensitivity, the inheritors of the cherished mantle passed from Love, to Nick Drake, to The Smiths and The Go-Betweens and on and on.

You’ll either love them or hate them. To be honest, though, it’s clear everyone here’s been waiting for a band like this for years. Sometimes they’re a bit stumbling and shambolic, looking distinctly as though they should have played live a bit more in preparation for a gig as big and awkward as this. Everyone stands up and dances – wobbles, flays; proper bedroom dancing for fast ones like ‘Judy And The Dream Of Horses’, then politely sits down again between songs, as if they were in a church. Which, of course, they are.

What else? Ooh, half-a-dozen new songs invested with just as much love and care as their predecessors, including an instrumental, ‘Tigermilk’, which almost qualifies as groovy. Duelling recorders that are fragile, but NOT twee. A frighteningly elegant sashay through ‘The Stars Of Track And Field’, plausibly the finest song about fancying discus throwers ever written. And ‘Lazy Line Painter lane’, wherein the very small but heroically voiced Monica Queen (formerly of rubbish country rockers Thrum) turns up, B&S suddenly make like the Tindersticks tumbling through ‘What Goes On’, and it all sounds like one of the most fantastic things released this year. Which, of course, it is.

“Yeah, you’re worth the tnouble and you’re worth the pain”, sings the ever-coy Stuart Murdoch in ‘Like Dylan In The Movies’, composing his own review, as the hiatuses between tunes stretch ever longer, the acoustic tuning becomes more tortuous. Yet criticism of mere technical hitches seems churlish. Belle & Sebastian, almost certainly, are the secret favourite band of many people here. At times, this seems an utterly justified state of affairs. See, we’re talking phenomenal.

Set List  My Wandering Days Are Over
Dylan In The Movies
Judy And The Dream Of Horses
Slow Graffiti
Is It Wicked?
A Summer Wasting
Photo Jenny
Tigermilk
Lazy Line Painter Jane
Stars Of Track And Field
Century Of Fakers
Like A Rolling Stone*
Seeing Other People
Simple Things
(* Stevie played the first verse and chorus whilst the others were tuning)

John Mulvey

NME – London, Islington Union Chapel, 31st July 1997
August 1997

The septet of Belle and Sebastian perform fragile songs about the shy and the heartbroken, led by Stuart Murdoch’s waiving voice, which is like Nick Drake’s angel sigh but eschews suicidal poetry in favour of a mixture of wit and urban surrealism, all wrapped in string and brass arrangements.
But this isn’t the sound of the crushig eimages of the Manic Street Preachers or the wall-of-sound pop of Phil Spector, it’s the ramshackle chic of street urchins, stumbling onto instruments and delighting in the sweet racket they make. And it’s a fantastic brew; because while they exude the air of lucky amateurs it’s a concoction only the stony-hearted could resist.

They make a fist of the first song, pushing their lackadaisical habits to the brink of disaster, but they recover and stumble brilliantly from one breathless song to the next. During one particularly lengthy tune-up, the guitarist calls for request and performs an impromptu solo version of Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”, but even this is brilliant, with Dylan’s original vitriol replaced with head-shaking regret.

At one point, as everyone is enjoying the spectacle of Belle and Sebastian in a church, a lone, crazed dancer suddenly and without reason starts flailing around like he’s at a techno club and we all shuffle with embarassment. Because that’s how fans of Belle and Sebastian suffer life, with shuffling embarassment, stolen looks, long lonely sighs and scribbled poetry. The audience look as if they’ve been hibernating since the Smiths split up a decade ago and there’s even – horror of horrors – grown men in T-shirts and cardigan ensembles again. For one glorious night, the arrogant anthemic indie bands are thankfully a world away as people in a chapel in Islington gleefully worship at the alter of shyness and coyness. Amen

Anthony Thornton

The Independent – London, Islington Union Chapel, 31st July 1997
August 1997

You’ll either love them or hate them – if indeed you’ve heard of them. A cliche, but never truer than in the case of B&S. Though the oft-fey, folkish charms send many scurrying for the sick bucket, this eight strong bunch of romantic dreamers and Nick Drake-a-likes have fast become cultishly hip in Indie Bedsitland. This may explain why half the audience crammed into a church venue this Sunday eve seem to have arrived from London’s trendier environs just for this gig.
Considering the (ahem) ‘selectivity’ of the crowd, and the rarity of gigs, B&S make few attempts to make new friends, mind. Unfamiliar material dominates the set, with few songs from the latest album If You’re Feeling Sinister given an airing. Of these the previously spritely Seeing Other People is slowed to mogadon pace, killing a much anticipated moment. One also questions the wisdom of Stuart sharing vocals with a female singer. Shades of Deacon Blue/Beautiful South!

Sunday’s set was wilfully obscurist, but there were gems among the mire, She’s Losing It, from the ultra-rare Tigermilk, pushed the acts songwriting skills to the fore, while The State That I Am In was, as ever, poetic. The general air, though. was of promise unfulfilled. B&S are infamously camera-shy and maybe celebrity isn’t an issue. Yet as rumours of collaborations with Donovan and Paul Simon surface, it may well arrive whether they like it or not.

Set List
Modern Rock Song
Sleep The Clock Around
Seeing Other People (Slow Version)
She’s Losing It
Century Of Fakers
Star’s Of Track And Field
Seymour Stein
Photo Jenny
Tigermilk
Slow Graffiti
Simple Things
Judy And The Dream Of Horses

Stephen Eastwood

Teletext, Planet Sound – Colchester Arts Centre, 3rd August 1997
August 1997

People have a curious, gooey feeling about Belle And Sebastian. They’ve fallen head over heels for the poetic ambition and tander romantic’s of the septet’s second album, “If You’re Feeling Sinister”, and now they want to see what the boy with the ever-wide eyes and slight-yet-affecting voice is actually like. The appearance of a good-looking, confident-seeming 28-year-old with a cool Stephen Pastel haircut is, therefore, a shock for those expecting a hopeIess cutie type. And even when he says, “I’m not too comfortable with having to stand for a long time,” you feel it isn’t out of wimpiness but a sense of fierce individuality. You’re soon proved right.
The boy’s name is Stuart Murdoch and, in the crudest terms possible, he’s the next Morrissey meets Jarvis meets Edwyn meets your favourite lovelorn hero. Those same curious people- in their hundreds in Scotland, soon to be joined by a nation of soppy dreamers-treat Stuart and his songs with an affection and warmth that’s nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with compassion. As he strums the first chords to any of his knowing masterpieces, it’s Sebadoh silent here,the stillness of respect and anticipation. And when a number ends, it’s tender uproar, the sound of tearful “Thankyou”s and excited “We love you”s.

It’s easy to see why these beautiful songs so readily capture the heart. They’re fashioned from a jumble sale of elegance – ragged cello and violin trade Tindersticks stories with the ghosts of The Go-Betweens and Felt on guitar and Hammond – and played with the serene-yet-heartfelt passion of a sensitive collective. There’s also a dark, perverse streak present which insists on blending idealism with the grubby realities of troubled existence. Thus, the characters in these songs don’t just fall in and out of love: they indulge in murder fantasies, homoerotic lovemaking sessions and moments of pure, untutored hedonism.

There are many, many examples of B&Ss life-changing brilliance, but we’ll start with “The State I Am In”. Building from a whisper to outright epiphany, it follows a dream in which Stuart’s brother comes out (“It took the heat off me for a while,” he sings, but don’t assume autobiography), a crippled friend is cured on the Sabbath, and the local minister “Took all of my sins / And wrote a pocket novel called ‘The State That I’m In’.” It’s the kind of song that’s awash with character but emotionally direct at the same time, tapping straight into the part of your soul that yearns to see the world in four dimensions of colour.

Stuart has at least 30 other songs to match this and, while they wander into different romantic corners, they share a desire to bring a vibrant sense of poetry to the dusty machinations of the heart. That’s also why the band have an interval when there’s no real need, why Stuart playing a grand piano at the ornate Assembly Rooms seems like the most natural and just thing on the planet, why the new single, “Dog On Wheels”, resembles a dark Spanish fiesta and why B&S’s deliciously slow version of “Reel Around The Fountain” feels like a long lost part of the artistic universe coming alive and slotting perfectly into place.

Thank you, Belle, Sebastian and God. The pleasure and the privilege was mine.

Ian Watson

Melody Maker – QM Union, Glasgow / Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, March 1997
April 1997

Things aren’t looking promising for V-Twin. The stage is cluttered with the usual array of equipment… and four keyboards. The audience of anoraked romantics and bespectacled indiephiles weren’t exactly counting on prog-rock tonight.
Luckily, that’s not actually on the menu: what they do get is a feast of vintage rock. But then, they weren’t counting on that either, since V-Twin are replacing the rather more melodious Adventures In Stereo as tonight’s support.

V-Twin are on form though, and this is more than enough to save the day. They visibly shake with power as they unleash their instrumental opener, converting the audience into pogoing maniacs within the space of 12 bars. You could easily label them unoriginal or even retro, but you can’t argue with this kind of volume. They boot the dying shit out of the corpse of T Rex, the Stones and the New York Dolls, and then scream ‘Kick Out The Jams’ in its face. And they’re all the more wonderful for being unexpected.

You’d expect Belle & Sebastian would have a hard time following this, but they show a diversity and friendliness that belies their roundly-praised, if painfully introspective, album ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’.

Singer Stuart Murdoch has learned quickly how to deal with audiences: on his own terms, sure, but with a surprising degree of respect, given his preciousness.

But the respect is definitely mutual. The bedroom scrawlings of ‘Seeing Other People’ transfers amazingly welt, even to this packed student union, and the captivating blend of Donovan-esque songwriting end Simon R Garfunkel arrangements have everyone captivated.

As with V-Twin, they play a numbers game, with as many as nine people on various strings and brass or even the odd Theremin at any given moment, but then the latest crop of successful Glasgow bands seem almost as interested in cutting down dole queues as giving us songs to whistle in the mornings or sing on the way home from the pub. Just what Scotland needs: evolution not devolution.

Craig Reece

NME – Glasgow QM Union, 8th March 1997
March 1997

glasgow university, queen margaret’s union:

I’d never been to Scotland before, let alone Glasgow. I knew about the gig a couple of months in advance and knew I’d like to see them again but… Anyway, I met this girl who said she liked Belle and Sebastian and she was American, over for a few months, and, well, Americans have no idea of distance. And she said she was thinking of going and I said I’d like to go too and so we started looking into it. And, as luck would have it, there were tube posters at Euston advertising trains to Glasgow for only £19 if booked a week in advance.
Anyway, we met on platform of King’s Cross on the day of the gig, her with her friend who’d changed her flights over from the states so she could attend and off we set. Five and three quarter hours later we hit Glasgow and found, eventually, the hotel.

The QM was pleasant enough once you’d gotten past security. It was then that we found that the tickets I’d asked to be reserved for us on the door hadn’t been but it hadn’t sold out and we were early so that wasn’t a problem. The actual hall was a bit strange, the stage took up the longer side of the place making the bit where the audience stood very wide but not very deep.

V-Twin came first. Everything was played well and with enthusiasm but it wasn’t really my thing, too much like rock music so… Adventures In Stereo were next and suffered in a live context because the changeovers between songs were longer than the songs themselves. The samples and loops of the (excellent) self-titled lp were also missing although the set did tend to avoid the lp tracks that relied on them too much. The lead singer’s voice, however, was a relevation, strong and well-pitched with what looked like the minimum of effort, and which made up for any of the other ingrediants that were lacking.

Belle And Sebastian started with a new song (“Beautiful”) and followed it with another – “Centuary Of Fakers” which, like so many of the new songs they would play over the weekend, inhabit the same universe as the old favourites, use a few of the familiar names and, as such, are instantly enjoyable. Songs you find you can sing along with during the first couple of hearings are usually very good or very bad. These were finely crafted and familiar without being formulaic or cliched. There were eight of them on stage. Not all of them play all of the time and would just loll about the stage or sit quietly until needed. Another two new songs before the now traditional mid-set break – “Dog On Wheels” (the new single) and “Belle And Sebastian” (which, strangely, manages to rhyme “shame” with “Sebastian” without sounding pants). The Monkees were playing down the road at the SECC, the first date of the British leg of the comeback tour. In celebration of this the odd Monkees riff would start between songs, plucked out on the lead guitar whilst waiting for the others to change instruments or re-tune.

Out of the break (after rounding up the stray band members) with “Mayfly”, a personal favourite, let down slightly by the lack of stylophone. It was there and Sarah was playing it but the mic hadn’t been turned on again after the pause so it was inaudible.

And then, something i wouldn’t have thought possible. There are some tunes that are so perfect in their original versions that to cover them is pointless and, occasionally, criminal. “Reel Around The Fountain”, i’d’ve said, is one of these tunes but this version, slower than the original, was pulled off superbly and left those of us of a certain age, dumbstruck. This was followed by the slow version of “Seeing Other People” where Stevie, Stuart and Isobel each sing a verse before all chipping in on the last verse. It’s almost a different song from the other version, a lot more melancholy.

Another two new songs sandwiched around what is arguably the bands signature number ended the set. Monica guested on the last song, adding to it a voice that her from The Beautiful South would kill for.
Set List:
Beautiful
Century Of Fakers
My Wandering Days Are Over
Seeing Other People
Dog On Wheels
Belle And Sebastian
Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying
(break)
Mayfly
Reel Around The Fountain
Seeing Other People (Slowly)
Middle Distance Runner
The State I Am In
Lazy Line-Painter Jane

edinburgh assembly rooms:

The Edinburgh concert was held in The Assembly Rooms, the kind of place more likely to hold choral evenings than rock gigs – stairways, a balcony and chandaliers. And no bar. There were also seats and tables within the auditorium, albeit off to the sides.
Support this time was from Monica, Monica from Thrum i found out later, with a seated guitarist and the occasional drum machine. The voice was still there and still intriguing, sounding at times like Ian McCulloch on Candlelands, but, again, it wasn’t really to my taste.
With little or no fuss Belle And Sebastian took the stage and launched straight into “The State I Am In”. Occasionally Stuart (and, later, Chris) would leave the stage and make his way down to the grand piano which was on the same level as the audience.

“Reel Around The Fountain” came as less of a surprise tonight, but didn’t lose any of its power for all that. Indeed, all the new songs heard for the first time less than 24 hours before felt like old friends. Over the two nights there were 7 completely new songs, one new treatment and a new cover version, enough for a third lp before i’ve had chance to tire of the first one.
Highlight of tonight was Chris looking like John Lennon, dancing like Bobby Gillespie. Unfortunately he later went into coolness deficit by spilling beer onto equipment and knocking the drum-machine off his keyboards.

No “Mayfly” tonight, it would’ve been nice to see them correct the lack of stylophone, but “Judy And The Dream Of Horses”, with its wobbly recorders, more than made up for this. Especially nice to hear all the songs with a live trumpet, something that was missing at the London gig late last year (and was very noticable in its absence).

I left Scotland the following afternoon (after a touristy trip over the Forth Bridge) feeling tired but happy. When i see weather maps i look towards the top and see Glasgow and Edinburgh and am constantly surprised at just how far they are from here but i’m so glad i made the effort to attend.
Set List:
The State I Am In
Belle And Sebastian
Dog On Wheels
Seeing Other People
Reel Around The Fountain
Like Dylan In The Movies
(break)
Judy And The Dream Of Horses
Century Of Fakers
You Made Me Forget My Dreams
My Wandering Days Are Over
Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying
Middle Distance Runner
Lazy Line-Painter Jane

Andrew Dean

Andrew Dean’s Review – Two Concerts: Glasgow and Edinburgh, March 8th & 9th 1997
March 1997

They sound gorgeous.
There are seven of them – eight if you include the guitarist’s grinning sister, dragged onstage to hold his harmonica during their closing song. Some of them wear suits, some of them don’t. They remind me of the Tindersticks (who they are supporting this evening) but only a little and only occasionally. They claim to have been conceived in an all-night cafe in Glasgow and have the most photogenic of singers, but still get their friends to appear in their press shots instead. They have the coolest dancing pianist, who smudges his purple nail varnish across the keys. Sometimes they sing about underwear, more often about kissing. Tonight they opt for speeding, up-tempo versions of their songs. They are the only group I’ve ever heard ask the soundman to make their vocals sound “brighter”; I read a lot into this request.

The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt once claimed that the singular aim in the creation of his songs was to form “pretty objects” that he could treasure forever. This “prettiness” is a desire that goes against current expectations of pretty much anyone making music today, yet I suspect Belle And Sebastian share a similar aesthetic, for their songs are actually pretty, the loveliest I’ve heard in an age.

Belle And Sebastian are oddly affecting in their sanguinity. Though they grin, though they regularly sound jaunty – “Us / With our winning smiles! / And us / With our catchy tunes!” – and beatific (and there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with this), their songs are laced with regret and an engaging tenderness, too.

So. Hearing Belle And Sebastian is a pleasure, a joy. A new band to exhalt!

David Hemingway

Melody Maker – Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
November 1996

By rights, a band called Belle And Sebastian should be impossibly twee. There should be two of them, and they should coo sweetly as they marry pretty ’60s folk-pop to sentiments of inadequacy. This is what is expected.
What they should not be is a six-strong posse of happy-go-lucky Glaswegians crammed into a tiny stage on a Monday night, charming the pants off a couple of hundred people who really shouldn’t have heard of them yet. And what they really, really shouldn’t do is rock out.

Time then, to chuck out the rule book and simply revel in the happy accident that is B&S. Cobbled together nine months ago by singer, guitarist and songwriter-in-chief Stuart Murdoch, they’ve released one very limited-edition LP called “Tigermilk”, followed this week by “If You’re Feeling Sinister”. And – in that they do actually play unfeasibly pretty ’60s folk-pop tunes – they are the triumphant conclusion of long and concerted Hibernian efforts to suduce us with simple melody.

They sound like Nick Drake fronting the BMX Bandits. They feel as precious as the Pastels. But – crucially – they play like Tindersticks. And for this they should be worshipped.

So clever, literate songs like “Stars Of Track And Field” and “Seeing Other People” start out unassumingly, with Stuart strumming a quiet acoustic or piano introduction. But gradually each tune builds up into a rich, gooey confection of sound – and all cutie timorousness goes the way of the rule book. Keyboards and drums and bass and cello and concertina and tambourine and toy piano join guitars in a rollicking crescendo worthy of the most drunken and dissolute of rock’n’rollers. By the end, Stuart is jigging around and stamping on the keyboards with his feet, narrowly missing bandmate Chris’ fingers. He’s clearly transported – and, judging by the crowd’s expressions – he’s not the only one.

Kitty Empire

NME – Charing Cross Borderline, London, 11th November 1996
November 1996
overseas press

The first time I went to a Belle & Sebastian show, I didn’t see them. They cancelled at the last minute, well after the support band had already played. A dozen years later, I nearly didn’t get see them again, due to a ticket mix-up. But luck intervened and my longstanding drought was broken. I watched Belle & Sebastian play for an hour and 45 minutes, a well-oiled eight-piece with an added string quartet and trumpeter on a couple of songs. Like a bouncy all-star revue beamed in from the late 1960s, there was funny banter, spirited performances, cute audience interaction, and impossibly bright songs packing a surprising oomph. It was a wellspring of good vibes.

Playing a second Forum gig after conquering Golden Plains a day prior, the band mixed up the set list accordingly. Unlike the previous two nights, there was no cover of the Kinks’ ‘Victoria’, but leader Stuart Murdoch thanked punters for the chance to play so many older songs. There was a fair spread of all seven albums, including the Scottish ensemble’s debut, Tigermilk. Even tunes from last year’s Write About Love, which I’d initially found limp, worked well live: the breezy title track, mod-ish ‘I Want the World to Stop’, fragile ‘Read the Blessed Pages’, and Sarah Martin’s ‘I Didn’t see it Coming’.

In a blazer over a striped sailor shirt, Murdoch came out with an acoustic guitar in hand and scarf around his throat for the opening ‘I Fought in a War’. He then shed everything but the shirt for ‘I’m a Cuckoo’, dancing foppishly to that glaring hook. Later he alternated between piano and acoustic and electric guitars, as well as finding time to play frontman, prancing about with practiced finesse. Sideman and occasional singer Stevie Jackson got the audience to do high harmonies for his ‘I’m Not Living in the Real World’, a song he said he had once envisioned as a 1966 Who B-side.

But the older songs were an obvious boon for fans. There was the millennial pair of ‘Waking up to Us’ and ‘The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner’, and Melbourne’s own Judy Mitchell reprised her oboe part on the splendid ’90s entry ‘Slow Graffiti’. There was Murdoch’s baseball pantomimes for ‘Piazza, New York Catcher’, Jackson’s bubbly ‘The Wrong Girl’, the T. Rex joys of ‘The Blues are Still Blue’, and the funky ‘Sukie in the Graveyard’. Tigermilk yielded ‘She’s Losing It’, ‘Expectations’, and a bit of ‘I Don’t Love Anyone’ by request. There was even a round of ‘Happy Birthday’ for a newly 18-year-old fan as well as guitarist Bobby Kildea.

‘Sleep the Clock Around’ spelled a raucous finish before the encore’s ‘Another Sunny Day’. Murdoch then introduced the band and let Jackson’s raging harmonica summon an untidy ‘Me and the Major’ to exit on. By now, Murdoch and company know exactly what to do live, such as inviting five punters to dance on stage during ‘The Boy with the Arab Strap’. You’d accuse them of stagey calculation if they weren’t so willing to be playful with their beloved songs. As bookish as Belle & Sebastian can be on record, such artifice fell away to expose the pure fun of their classically crafted pop.

Doug Wallen

The Vine – Forum, Melbourne
January 2011

Good music doesn’t always come to you. Sometimes you have to find it yourself, without radio, MTV, major record chains and magazines. But somehow, in Manhattan, quality in pop and rock usually doesn’t go unheralded. Concerts by two new, promising and little-known British acts, Beth Orton (on Saturday night at the Westbeth Theater) and Belle and Sebastian (on Sunday night at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on the Lower East Side), were filled to capacity with admiring fans, most of whom had discovered these artists via word of mouth.
Unlike Oasis, Blur and other bands playing Brit-pop, Ms. Orton and Belle and Sebastian played light, airy Brit-folk characterized more by shyness than brashness. Softness, plainness and sensitivity were not signs of weakness but goals to be pursued in songs chiseled out of delicate arrangements and smart, perceptive lyrics. Self-effacing onstage, both acts seemed embarrassed when the audience applauded at the beginning of a song it recognized. Both also consisted of eight-piece ensembles that weren’t afraid to destabilize the folk songs with touches of punk-rock and electronic dance-music. At the same time, each song would have sounded just as good performed by one person on an acoustic guitar.

[Beth Orton stuff deleted].

Though just as introverted, the Scottish ensemble Belle and Sebastian was more of an anomaly. Its members appear to be lazy, unambitious bumblers full of private jokes they’re too sleepy to share. Members forgot lyrics, fell out of rhythm, lost their place during melodies and took long pauses to switch instruments. During one break, they asked an audience member for help in lowering the microphone stand.

But somehow, the songs sounded meticulous and exquisite, with Stuart Murdoch singing in a shy, sweet voice buoyed by a loosely knit cushion of guitars, violin, cello, brass, drums and keyboards. The approach was best summed up in lyrics from one of its albums, “Nobody writes them like they used to/So it may as well be me.” Though there is nary a low point on its excellent second album, “If You’re Feeling Sinister” (Jeepster/The Enclave), or its even newer singles, Belle and Sebastian performed mostly unreleased songs. Its lyrics looked at characters like a woman modeling the Velvet Underground in clay, a runner who breaks hearts and lots of people in boring jobs with active fantasy lives. Its knack was for simple storytelling, with each lyric thinly veiling a world as lonely as Ms. Orton’s. “Could I write a piece about you now that you’ve made it?” Mr. Murdoch sang in his winsome, genteel voice in the song about the runner. “About the hours spent, the emptiness in your training/You only did it so that you could wear/Your terry underwear/ And feel the city air/Run past your body.”

After an hour of watching the concert, fans may have loved the band, but they still didn’t understand it. “You’re so very quiet,” Mr. Murdoch told the audience.

When the crowd responded by cheering, he raised a hand and meekly tried to stop them. “No,” he explained, “we like that.”

The New York Times – New York, Angel Orensanz, 6th and 7th September 1997
September 1997
online press
local press

All Three Shows

It’s been a while since I travelled further than a spin on the DART to catch a band, but then again, it’s been a while since I’ve heard a band this damn good. Even grimey Manchester can’t put a downer on the sort of romance B&S ooze at every pore. And only B&S could come up with the idea of playing three shows in two days inside the ornate splendour of the city’s town hall. We’re literally gobsmacked walking around this remarkable building, windows embellished with intricately stained glass, archaic stair-cases winding off in every direction, every door hiding a mystery and centuries of history. And inside one of the larger rooms seven or eight musicians swop instruments spread out over two stages, one opposite the other and a stacked PA in the middle.

This is Belle and Sebastian’s world for two days.

The first show is tentative, impeded by the troublesome sound which is yet to marry itself to the Town Hall’s vexatious acoustics. But once Stuart Murdoch’s fragile voice comes upon us, a hushed reverance inhabits the air as brushed drums and deft traces of moog and hammond begin to fill the room. B&S have over three albums worth of great songs so despite their faltering poise it’s still an enjoyable evening, and we’re enchanted by the unique surrounds. The following day’s matinee performance is approaching sublime. The band are hungover (keyboardist Chris hides a bucket beneath his pile of instruments in case of emergencies) and play with particular delicacy. Stuart performs a tender ‘Fox In The Snow’ on piano and we swoon appropriately.

The final show is aptly rousing. B&S have mastered the discortant echo of the venue and every instrument (cello, ethnic percussion, drums, organs, piano, trumpet, violin, guitars etc) now cruises in harmony. The audience let loose a little too, and indulge in a spot of hootin’ and hollerin’. Tonight’s set is for the most aprt a variation on the previous two. The much favoured ‘The State I Am In’ is aired in its more languid ‘Tigermilk’ arrangement, (trainspotter info) as opposed to the snappier ‘Dog On Wheels’version (alas,nothing from Dog On Wheels makes it this weekend – next time please) but it satiates our need to hear one of the finest pop songs released this year. Several more from ‘Tigermilk’ are played and some new material due for release in the next five or six months. The quality control leaves us dizzy and by the end of the night we’ve discarded all those Nick Drake and Love comparisons and fallen well and truly in love with our unlikely new pop saviours from Glasgow.

Leagues – Dublin’s Event Guide – Manchester, Town Hall, 27th and 28th December 1997
December 1997

Sunday Night
“Take a second of the day and think of all the things which we have done this year…”

I know you’ve heard twice as many end-of-year summaries than a sane person could reasonably stomach by now, but this was, simply, the coolest thing. Belle and Sebastian, the pop group whose music has wrapped itself around my year like fine bacon around a Christmas sausage, winding up 1997 with a Classic Pop Event.

Among the many and various reasons I love Belle and Sebastian is the fact that they are scrupulous in their insistence on doing things differently. They seem to be able to exist effortlessly outside the tedious restrictions of established pop method, to be completely different to their crass contemporaries.

So there are three concerts in two days, including a matinee performance. The gigs are held in the Victorian gothic splendour of Manchester Town Hall (the most unusual venue I’ve seen since Belle and Sebastian played in an octagonal church in London this summer…). The stage, bizarrely, is C-shaped, meaning that at no point could any individual see the whole band, who swapped places for each song. And I had no chance of inspecting keyboard player Wee Chris’s reported penchant for outrageous flared loons. Most unusual of all, this is no slick pop spectacular. There are gaps between the songs as a result of the stage layout or technical problems, (one very lengthy one was due to some unspecified cello catastrophe), filled with embarrassed comments or ad-hoc songs. Stevie demonstrated how the guitar figure in the classic ‘La Pastie De La Bourgeoisie’ bore a shocking resemblance to the theme from ‘Emmerdale’, and treated us to a special rendition of Manchester’s most famous contribution to pop history: ‘Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs’. Some of the above displeased some of the capacity crowd, unhappy that the unwritten rules of rock and roll were being so blatantly flouted.

I loved it.

I love them for the fact they don’t feel the need to put on a bland standard show. I love them for the fact that they put themselves in unusual and difficult situations, as much to see what happens as anything. I love them because they seem to be standing alone in consistently taking chances in a way that none of the nominees for Brat awards could ever understand.

And I love them because, as someone wise once said, they sound fucking brilliant. Song after beautiful song, they reminded me why I adore their records and made me all excited because the new songs sounded fresher, more exciting, better still. Belle and Sebastian have a new LP out in the springtime. If songs like ‘Seymour Stein’ and ‘Loneliness Of The Middle Distance Runner’ are anything to go by, it’s going to be fantastic. Really. No pop band of the moment has such a fine grasp of pop perfection, even down to the immaculate choice of cover versions. ‘Reel Around The Fountain’ in March, this time ‘In A Nutshell’ the best song from the first Orange Juice LP, a copper bottomed classic rendered, if anything, more beautiful, shimmering and fragile than the original.

Of course, a professional journalist would be compelled to tell you of weak points and faults (indeed, one well-known and far-too-old inky scribe was reported to be ostentatiously parading his contempt for the band during the matinee). I could, and can, see none. For the first time in ages, I am too far gone, head over heels to have any kind of rational perspective. Isn’t that great?

Ordinarily, I would be warning you to catch up with Belle And Sebastian before it is too late. True to form, they confound the ordinary. They seem to be continuing upwards and onwards, each new song a new way to wring emotional reactions from me and god knows how many others in a rainy Manchester.

A fantastic night. Lots of good friends and me, all together for the pleasure of seeing the best pop group in the whole world. And the pleasure of dreaming of the new LP, as good a reason for looking forward to 1998 as any.

Tim Hopkins

Scan, Lancaster Uni – Manchester, Town Hall, 27th & 28th December 1997
December 1997

Question: What’s got sixteen legs, eight heads and the voice of an angel; rarely appears in public but when it does causes panic and desperation of biblical proportions? The answer, of course, is Belle & Sebastian, an unassuming, publicity-shy pop group from Glasgow who have, in the space of two short years and two discreetly classic albums, achieved legendary status among the ranks of the country’s gentle-hearted romantics and fey, dysfunctional outcasts.

The scenes outside the Zodiac beggared belief. Two hundred punters from out of town queuing for an hour to get in because they’d all booked their tickets by phone and had to endure the credit card processing rigmarole. Their’s is the panic – will they get inside before the band come on? The desperation is on the faces of another two hundred people who, with no chance of getting in, still queue up, hoping for a miracle. And miracles can happen. How else do you explain the unheralded triumph of pop beauty over the ugly lad zeitgeist? The world needs Belle & Sebastian even if they don’t seem to need the world.

On the face of it it’s all so unimposing. One pretty, late twenty-something boy with an acoustic guitar surrounded by a ramshackle troupe of musicians that include a cellist and a trumpeter as well as two keyboardists mounted on a platform in the middle of the hall because there’s no more room on stage. The music is so gentle it could evaporate in a club setting like this (they’re more accustomed to playing in libraries and cafes) but Stuart Murdoch’s gentle, folky voice holds the audience in something approaching rapture. He sings tender songs for pale, skinny people who treat him with genuine reverence.

It hardly matters that Belle & Sebastian refuse to play a ‘greatest hits’ set. Aside from a couple of new songs, as yet unreleased, everyone knows all the obscure stuff anyway. So much so that when Stuart messes up the beginning of `State I Am In’ the crowd are singing the words for him. And this is no `Wonderwall’ anthem; instead it’s a fragile lullaby with a convoluted story of confusion and angst in the mould of Nick Drake or Felt and perhaps the most beautiful song written since `Northern Sky’.

Belle & Sebastian’s influences are many and varied and crop up throughout their set, from Love to Simon & Garfunkel to The Smiths. Yes, it’s folk-pop but it’s much much more. New single, `Lazy Line Painter Jane’ is the one great song that The Beautiful South never wrote, and if the comparison makes you balk, don’t let it, it’s more the way Stuart’s voice contrasts with that of guest singer, Monica Queen, from Thrum, while its rising crescendo of 60s organ chime takes it closer to the more melodic side of the Velvet Underground. At the opposite end of the scale there is the jazzy instrumental of `Tigermilk’ before cellist/tambourinist Isobelle takes over vocal duties for the country-tinged `It’s Wicked Not To Care’, perhaps the only song ever to feature a glockenspiel solo.

The way that every softly played, carefully crafted song is greeted by rapturous applause that’s twice the volume of the music is bizarre but they seem neither fazed by such adulation nor do they play up to it. They’re happy to potter about, tuning up or swapping instruments as if in a bedroom rehearsal, before sheepishly announcing `Another new one’. There may well be many out there who will see Belle & Sebastian as the start of the rebirth of wimp-pop while others might dismiss them as an anomalous throw-back to 60s folk whimsy. These people have no souls. So blinded by a haze of ugliness (did anyone else feel physically sick at the sight of John Power on the front cover of Melody Maker last month?) that they fail to see real beauty when it blooms. What a rosebud is to a garden, so Belle & Sebastian are to pop music. Wake up and smell the blossom.

Set List:
Mayfly
The State I Am In
Simple Things
Seymour Stein
Tigermilk
Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying
Sleeping The Clock Around
Is It Wicked Not To Care?
Like Dylan In The Movies
Ease Your Feet Into The Sea
Lazy Line Painter Jane
I Don’t Love Anything

Oxford NightShift – Oxford Zodiac, 2nd August 1997
August 1997

Some weeks ago I wrote a rather positive review of Belle and Sebastian’s second album, “If You’re Feeling Sinister”, following which several of my friends roundly took the piss, saying I was overreacting to an average band. Well I have cause to revise my opinion. They’re not the best band this year. They’re without doubt the best guitar band of the nineties. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll effuse for ages.
On Saturday morning, not feeling so great, we piled into a hired car, steeled to make a pilgrimage to the mythic lands north of the border. We were ready (if not entirely willing) to brave unlimited neeps and tatties in the name of following the ascending Belle star.

Actually, it turns out that Glasgow is a handsome city where the record shopping is rather excellent and a jolly time is to be had. But over the day hung a delicious mixture of excitement and fear: excitement that we’d finally find out what Belle and Sebastian looked like, and fear that they’d be rubbish live.

See, Belle and Sebastian’s records are crystalline things of a gentle beat beauty. There’s always the fearful possibility that through bad sound, bad technique or nervousness (on record they do seem like gentle souls) the subtleties of the music might be trampled into an unseemly mud.

Two support acts, then, to span the time between wondering about Belle and finding out. V-Twin, who are nothing but a skinny, callow parody Scot-rock band. Not good enough to be compared to the already crappy Teenage FC, these are the Australian Whiteout.

Then the first thrill of the evening was Adventures In Stereo, featuring original Primal Scream guitarist and all-round pop god Jim Beattie. They’ve picked an unfortunate name for a band who are clearly influenced by Stereolab, but they play shimmering fragments of songs, spending their efforts in search of the brilliant moment. Of which they have several. I strongly suggest to you that if you fancy the thought of angel-voiced pure pop like Stereolab playing selections from the Beach Boys’ classic “Friends”, you start investing in AIS, and soon.

Belle and Sebastian feature between seven and ten individuals of varying ages and degrees of winsomeness. The group seems to revolve around Stuart, who is a cutester in a skinny, light-voiced way. They’re not afraid of swapping instruments between songs or taking steps away from trad rock instrumentation. You’re just as likely to see a member of Belle and Sebastian wielding a cello or a stylophone as you are to see them wrestle with a bass guitar. It’s an adventurousness which is rare in these arid and conservative times. But this is an indie gig, right? You have every right to expect a handful of faithful with an irredeemably low quality threshold jizzing over thirty minutes of badly performed, half-realised, over-familiar songs squashed through a threepenny sound system, followed by a long and disappointed drive homeward.

Not this time. The sound was just right, crystal clear and not so loud as to mangle Belle’s magnificence. There must have been at least a thousand of the good folks of Glasgow (including a few threatening-looking bruisers sprinkled amongst the more obviously indie fraternity) swooning at their brilliance. They played for well over an hour and a half (punctuated by na wee break for as long as it takes to have a drink and a cigarette – awww…) and their material was mostly new: just three songs each from the first and second albums. Here’s the rub, though- the new stuff sounded better, more exciting, more wrenchingly melodic than the songs we already know and love. Pretty, sad, touching, funny, what we all need in these ugly days. Oh, and they played a half speed version of “Reel Around The Fountain”, which ached liked it always should have. Is it heresy to say it was better than The Smiths live? I’ve seen the song played by both bands. I know which I loved more…

And I know this is going once again to sound like utterly unjustifiable hyperbole, but I haven’t felt like this about a guitar band for ten years: not since a few heady months in 1987 when my world spun to the now largely forgotten (not by me!) sounds of Biff Bang Pow!, The Claim and McCarthy. I am completely and beatifically in love with Belle and Sebastian. There’s something special happening and it’s happening right now. Belle and Sebastian. God, I’m so excited.

Tim Hopkins

Scan, Lancaster Uni – Belle and Sebastian Live! at Glasgow QMU, 8th March 1997
March 1997