Belle and Sebastian @ The Anthem – May 2nd 2024
Belle and Sebastian @ The Anthem – May 2nd 2024

Live Review: Belle and Sebastian @ The Anthem – May 2nd 2024

With a career now spanning 28 years, Scottish indie rockers Belle and Sebastian have become one of the defining bands of their generation. The group didn’t invent twee pop (that’s usually credited to bands on the NME-released C86 compilation that came out a good decade before Belle and Sebastian existed), but arguably they did bring it to the mainstream with their early records such as If You’re Feeling Sinister and The Boy With the Arab Strap (and their debut album Tigermilk, though that didn’t see wide release until later), finding audiences worldwide and influencing a whole generation of musicians. Over the years the band has worked to branch out and shed a bit of the twee image, but it remains a vital part of their DNA. Early last year the band surprise-released their 12th studio album Late Developers, their most varied yet.

Most of the touring for the album last year took place in the UK, with only a smattering of dates across Europe added on. This year brings more extensive touring, with the group embarking on a month-long swing through North America in April and May, before another round of European dates in July. This past Thursday, the band came to the Anthem in Washington, DC, for their first appearance in the city since 2018.

Rather than focusing attention on the new album, Belle and Sebastian presented a career-spanning set with selections covering nearly their entire catalog, drawing only “Give a Little Time” and “So In the Moment” from the record’s eleven tracks. The high-energy set saw the band in good form, with frontman Stuart Murdoch bouncing (sometimes literally) between keyboard, guitar, and tambourine. Early folky tracks like “Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying” and “Like Dylan in the Movies” were there mixed in with dancier numbers like “The Party Line” and “Funny Little Frog,” and the band even included several songs that have not made many appearances on the setlist in recent years such as “There’s Too Much Love” and “Nobody’s Empire.” There was, of course, what has become a standard trope of Belle and Sebastian shows over the years in which audience members are invited on the stage to dance to “The Boy With the Arab Strap.” Overall, it was a fun show which served as a reminder of why the band has had so much longevity.

The DC show wrapped up Belle and Sebastian’s east coast dates for this tour, but they are currently swinging briefly through the Midwest and the Mountain states before heading to the west coast for dates in California, Oregon, and Washington over the next couple of weeks.

Opening the show was The Weather Station, the project of Canadian singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman. Much like when she opened for First Aid Kit last year, the bulk her set focused on her 2021 album Ignorance, though this time she also included two new, yet-to-be-released tracks.

PHOTOS © MATT CONDON

Belle and Sebastian

The Weather Station

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