Belle and Sebastian are the Scottish indie septet of everyone’s dreams and when they announced that they would be playing a show at the beautiful Palace Theater in St. Paul, nearly everyone I know (including myself) went wild. Having seen them multiple times in the past, I knew to expect a long set full of some of my personal favorite songs, both old and new.
The morning of the show, word got out that they had somehow accidentally left their drummer in North Dakota on their way to the Twin Cities. “I went into kind of ‘daddy’ mode or something like that and I just remember that there was an episode of The West Wing where the President’s daughter went missing, and I thought ‘What did they do then?'” lead singer and songwriter Stuart Murdoch joked in an interview. Thankfully, all seven members of the band made it to St. Paul just in time for the magic to happen onstage.
Starting the evening as Julien Baker a soft, but very well, spoken young woman with a guitar and a big voice. She was gracious of the cheers from the audience and worked through multiple catchy and melodic tunes. Having opened for acts like The Decemberists in the past, she is making her way around the indie music scene and taking it by storm. Her songs seem to bare her soul and feelings to the audience. Just minutes before publishing this review, she announced her new album “Turn Out The Lights”
During the show itself, the band played for over ninety minutes, reaching back into their catalog to play some rarities and some crowd favorites. Speaking of the crowd, nearly everyone surrounding me stood still and just listened and appreciated the act in front of them throughout the whole show. This only changed for a few of their more popular songs, including the encores “The Party Line,” and “Judy and the Dream of Horses.”
Although hearts were a bit heavy due to the current state of the politics of this country, Stuart Murdoch successfully lightened the mood and helped to heal some heavy hearts, even if just for the evening. Jokes were made about a rivalry between St. Paul and Minneapolis, the surplus of “Peanuts” statues around the city, and how happy he was to finally have their drummer back with the band after the abandonment at a Wal Mart.
As Murdoch finished out the show, he made a statement that seemed to calm every indie kid in the building. “This country is a great country. And it’s a great country because of the people, and the people aren’t the ones you see on Fox News. We are all going though tricky times. But it’s a blip. We will win. Peace will win. Gentleness will win. That’s what makes a great country.” Hard to believe? Yes. Somehow easier to believe when the singer of your favorite adolescent band is saying it to you? Definitely.
Although the crowd wasn’t full of dancing and laughter, it was full of happiness and nostalgia- which is pretty much what you can expect when it comes to the show of a band who has affected so many people’s emotions for nearly their whole lives.
Setlist: Act of the Apostle / I’m a Cuckoo / We Were Beautiful / A Summer Wasting / Seeing Other People / The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner / We Rule the School / Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John / Photo Jenny / I Can See Your Future / Play for Today / Expectations / The Boy with the Arab Strap / The Blues Are Still Blue / The State I Am In Encore The Party Line / Judy and the Dream of Horses