Scottish rock band Belle and Sebastian took over the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver last night. The group was last in town in 2015, behind their then, and still, latest release Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance.
The night, the first of a two night stint, was a showcase of the outfits over two-decade career, featuring early hits like “I’m A Cuckoo” from their 2003 release Dear Catastrophe Waitress and “Judy and the Dream of Horses” from 1996’s If You’re Feeling Sinister. It was a well-rounded grab bag of wanted hits.
Lead singer Stuart Murdoch looked to be in fine form as he navigated the show with his charismatic but understated presence. His vocals resonated through the venue but at many moments were drowned away by the eager fans singing along.
It felt like a true family affair. A seeming group of strangers pulled together by one unifying force.
There were attendees young and old, support spanning across many generations for this rock powerhouse.
Lead guitarist Steve Jackson was quirky in his performance. He bopped around the stage with a slanted smile on his face, committed to his instrument but humbled by the audience. His playing was seamless but impactful, and he added a complexity to songs with his intricate finger work. I really enjoyed just watching him play.
With about eight members on stage, the band managed to create a robust sound wall for each song.
Their backdrop was an ever-changing lcd panel adding rich vibrant patterns and full colour images behind them. It was simple and still quite visually stunning.
The band was loving their job. They played with heart and humility.
I hope they come back again soon, I don’t think Vancouver can wait another three years for the next set of shows.
Setlist Act of the Apostle I’m a Cuckoo We Were Beautiful Seeing Other People You’re Just a Baby Perfect Couples Sukie in the Graveyard We Rule the School Don’t Leave the Light on Baby Like Dylan in the Movies I Can See Your Future The Wrong Girl Poor Boy The Boy With the Arab Strap I Didn’t See It Coming Judy and the Dream of Horses
Encore: The Party Line Me and the Major
Japanese Breakfast by Matthew Segal
Japanese Breakfast, the brainchild and pet-project of Michelle Zauner, returned to Vancouver for the third time since releasing her highly-acclaimed sophomore album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet. Zauner has been steadily touring and recently completed work on the soundtrack for a video game, Sable, which is set for release sometime in 2019. Her work on a video game soundtrack seems fitting, given that Zauner has described Soft Sounds as a sort of “science fiction musical”.
On this particular visit, Japanese Breakfast was opening for Belle and Sebastian and, due to the latter’s longevity and widespread fanfare, the venue – The Vogue Theater – was a far larger room than Japanese Breakfast had played in their previous visits to Vancouver. On top of that, many people were still filing into the theatre due to the fact that the band launched into their set thirty minutes before the advertised start time.
Zauner brought forth an elastic energy to go along with her rangy vocals, smirking sweetly into the microphone at one moment and leaping dramatically, launching herself across the stage, at the next. She bantered with the crowd, heckled an over-sharing audience member, jestfully-yet-honestly expressed gratitude to Belle and Sebastian for their proclivity for luxury liquors, joked matter-of-factly about dating Belle and Sebastian (“we’ve been on 5 or 6 dates so far… it’s going pretty well!”) and, as is tradition with Michelle, tried oh-so-hard to get her inventive Vancouver moniker – The Couv – to catch on (eds note: it won’t).
This has been my second time seeing Japanese Breakfast live and my expectations were met and my confident belief that they are a can’t-miss act was solidified. The band continues to add impressive musical flourishes to the songs as they grow together and Michelle continues to astound with her gentle-yet-robust and ever-potent vocals.
Set-list: Planetary Ambience In Heaven The Woman That Loves You Road Head Heft Everybody Wants to Love You 12 Steps Boyish The Body Is a Blade Til Death Machinist Diving Woman