SYN Reviews: Belle & Sebastian


Belle and Sebastian

6th May 2018 – Palais Theatre, Melbourne.

Words by Rachel Iampolski

The recently restored romantic Palais Theatre lit up in blue as Belle and Sebastian made their long awaited return to Melbourne (well technically it’s only been three years since they were last on our little island, but for diehard fans of the enduring indie-pop band it was three years too many).


Excitement began to build as the crowd slowly filtered into the venue and was warmed up by the melodic yet ghostly styling’s of Melbourne piece Totally Mild who made their way through their biggest hits from debut album DownTime and a few from their latest, Her.


Following a brief intermission, the giddy crowd welcomed the nine piece Glaswegian rockers, who diligently began their set the title track of the 1997 EP, Dog On Wheels. As the band made their way through all facets of their twenty-two-year-long repertoire – including crowd favourites ‘The Arab Strap’, ‘Judy And The Dream Of Horse’, ‘The Stars of Track and Field’ and ‘Step Into My Office Baby’ –  the crowd grew warmer alternating from sitting and swooning along to their favourite tracks, or standing and bopping their indie hearts out.


There were so many fantastic moments, but what stood out the most, and the over all lasting impression from the show was just how wholesome and personable the performance was! While the musicality of the show and band is undeniable – with almost all members switching between different instruments, and front man Stuart Murdoch’s voice unwavering despite all the years – the performance still managed to feel as intimate and joyful as a small club or private show. From the friendly and charming banter between Murdoch, Sarah Martin and Stevie Jackson that provided a pleasant break between songs, to the vast, nostalgic visuals (a mixture of retro wallpaper and video clips) that accompanied each track. From the way that frontman Murdoch effortless shifted from high energy dance moves to sitting on the front of the stage and singing in a way that made you feel like the only person in the audience, or to the bands signature gesture of inviting audiences to dance on the stage with them made the entire performance feel exceptionally comforting and celebratory, despite often singing about serious topics.


Returning for a three song encore (including ‘The Party Line’, and ‘Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying’) and a roaring audience, Belle and Sebastian delivered Melbourne yet another stellar performance which left their loyal fans smiling and giddy as they spilled out of the warm theatre and into the cold streets of St. Kilda, high on nostalgia, glee and anticipation for their next visit!

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